It happens to everyone. Sometimes more than once! You thought you were perfectly prepared for your presentation, but it was a flop. Or maybe you didn’t realize it was a failure until after the fact. As one article I read stated: “Bad presentations happen to good people.” So now what?
Instead of ending up as one of those speakers struggling with trying to figure out what went wrong after the fact, let’s be proactive by addressing three potential speaker “danger zones.”
Relying Too Heavily on Technology
- With visual presentations like PowerPoint, are your slides sharing too much information? One good rule of thumb is that your slides shouldn’t provide enough information for your audience to understand what you’re talking about without your guidance. Your visuals should not be your script. It’s up to you and your words to supply the meaning and context of your visuals.
- Did your technology fail to work as planned? This is where planning ahead can save the day. Figure out what technologies you do and don’t have control of ahead of time.
If you’re Zooming your presentation, host your own practice session on Zoom ahead of time to make sure everything’s working. Make sure you have the right screens open and practice switching between them. That way, when you’re live, your host can make you a co-host and you’re ready to go.
Remember that technology is an add-on. It’s great when it works, but when it doesn’t, you’re still the expert, and your audience will expect you to deliver your talk with or without technology. One great backup solution is to have a handout available to email if need be.
Getting in Front of the Wrong Audience
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you prepare. Your words just didn’t resonate with the audience. Maybe you were speaking above or below their level on your topic. Maybe the event planner didn’t understand your talk enough to know how it would be received by their membership. There’s not much you can do about it after the fact except to learn from it.
- Is there a better way to describe your talk and your target audience?
- Is there a chance your target audience needs to be shifted?
- Don’t rely on the event planner to do your homework for you. Educate yourself on the audience enough to feel confident that what you’re going to speak to them about is going to resonate with them.
When It Just Isn’t Your Day!
Yeah, it stinks, but there are times when we just can’t seem to get into our speaking groove. This is one reason why you should have a great “before I step onto the stage” routine prior to speaking. One thing that works for me is a bit of stretching… you know… to get those endorphins flowing. Listening to some of your favorite music to boost your mindset is another option.
You can also remind yourself of what’s going to happen when you’re done speaking. Your audience will thank you. Your event planner will thank you for doing a great job. Then you get to move on to those after-the-podium conversations – the ones that connect you with people in your audience who want to talk to you more about what you have to offer.
Thinking about those future conversations can be a simple but effective way to motivate yourself. They are reminders of how great it feels to take the stage and share your expertise in ways that inspire people to connect with you after.
Sometimes, having a good offense is the best defense. That’s why the above focuses on what you can do ahead of time. But, if none of the above works, if something does go wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Your improved preparation will increase your ability to react like a pro… maybe so skillfully that people won’t even realize something went wrong unless you tell them!
‘Til we speak again….