The worst presentation mistake is the easiest to avoid


4 in 5 professionals shifted their focus away from the speaker in the last presentation they attended. This is something we’re all probably guilty of. What is the problem?

Despite the persistent rumour that our attention span has dropped below that of a goldfish, we believe that’s not the culprit here. Many presentations simply fail to engage and hold the audience’s attention.

We’ve asked a specialist, Ibrahim J. Mariwa, what the most common mistake is that leads to unengaging presentations. His answer: Lack of Preparation.

(Learn how to spot if your people need presentation training.)

How this presentation mistake plays out

After working with hundreds of business professionals from all levels, Ibrahim has seen certain patterns emerge. Before a presentation, it’s common to hear the following from presenters:

  • It’s a simple subject, and I’m the subject matter expert, I’ll just wing it.
  • I’ve spent the night putting together my slides; I’ve got this.
  • I have no time! I’ll just do what I can, and get it over with.
  • What’s there to prepare? I’ll just talk, talk, and talk.

With the above approach, it’s not surprising that many presentations fall short of expectations and the audience gets distracted easily. Unfortunately, the post-presentation reaction of most presenters is usually some version of self-defense:

  • It’s not my problem that they didn’t get the message.
  • What am I supposed to do if they don’t understand me?
  • I’ve done my part; it’s not my fault that they weren’t paying attention.
  • I did my best. What else do they want?

These statements cover up an uncomfortable truth that every presenter should know and internalise:

Delivering the message of the presentation is entirely the presenter’s responsibility.

Once this truth is understood, presenters can take the right actions to improve. And that’s to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. 

Where to go from here

Like proper preparation, basic presentation skills never get old. We have a programme to ensure that your people don’t fall prey to easily-avoidable mistakes.

Presentations Alive!™ focuses on developing the fundamental skills for professional presentations. Your staff will learn how to structure a presentation, how to use posture, eye contact, voice, and gestures to get maximum impact from the presentation as well as the do’s and don’ts of visual aids. As a result, they will be able to remain calm, confident and energised even when presenting to senior management. 


Question of the day: How are you preparing for presentations? Let us know in the comments below.