Think back over the presentations you have sat through recently.
You’ve probably heard someone say “excuse me if I seem nervous”, “I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare” or perhaps “you probably can’t read this” as they take you through a set of slides.
If you have, you can probably recall little else about that presentation.
These three expressions are all examples of the type of phrases that can ruin presentations. Here are nine more phrases we feel presenters should avoid:
1. “You won’t need to make notes.”
This line is usually followed by “the presentation will be online later.”
There’s nothing wrong with posting your presentation online, but if all the information the audience needs is on those slides, they might as well save some of their precious time and just wait for it to go live.
Good presentations do not feature text heavy slides—and no-one ever went to a presentation hoping to hear someone read aloud. Restrict slides to a supporting role and engage your audience with your thoughts and ideas. Allow them to make as many notes as they like.
2. “I’ve got a lot of information to cover.”
This is a presentation killer and instantly evokes thoughts of information overload and boredom among the audience—not a great start.
Even if your audience is fully engaged they are not going to remember most of what you say. If your presentation does contain a lot of information, you need to go back to the editing stage, sharpen your pencil and focus on one key message you want people to take away.
3. “Time’s running out, so I’ll get through the rest quickly.”
This smacks of a lack of preparation and poor time management, and it is not going to leave a good impression with your audience. They also likely to be left wondering what they would have gotten from the rest of the presentation if it had been given the time it deserved.
Audiences typically become restless, distracted and uneasy when there is any suggestion that proceedings are overrunning—particularly if you are speaking before a break or at the end of the day. Even if could rush through what remains of your presentation, their attention is likely elsewhere.
4. “I think I’ve bored you enough.”
Hopefully your presentation has been interesting and insightful, in which case why leave the audience with a negative connotation?
If it really has been boring, is it really necessary to point it out?
There are much more effective and stylish ways to bring your presentation to a close, such as producing a brief summary of the key points, referring back to a question you may have asked at the start, encouraging action or drawing in an inspirational quote.
5. “I’d like to tell a story.”
Stories and anecdotes are a great way to illustrate your messages and make them relatable, but they don’t need to be announced with a ‘let me tell you a story’ type phrase.
You want your presentation to sound natural, not rehearsed and robotic.
Think about how you would bring in stories to a conversation with family and friends and adopt a similar approach.
6. “As I’m sure you know…”
Assuming knowledge is a quick way to lose your audience. If people can’t follow what you are saying their attention will rapidly move elsewhere.
You are the expert in this situation and it is important not to assume the people you are speaking to know as much about the subject as you do. The best approach is to try to educate those who may not naturally know what you are talking about and reinforce the knowledge of those who probably do.