9 presentation pitfalls – how many are you guilty of ?

With Family Safety Week just around the corner (23-27 April), we’ve put together a FREE family-focussed toolbox talk for you to download and deliver to your team. To help you get into the swing of things, we’ve highlighted some of the most common public speaking clangers you should avoid at all cost when giving a presentation… 

1: You didn’t bring a back-up plan

You’re all ready to go. The computer’s fired up. The projector’s finally working. The audience look on expectantly. You take a deep breath. And then… Disaster strikes. A power cut. Even worse, you haven’t prepared a paper back up. Queue scenes of carnage as your audience tear out the seating proceed to riot. Or at the very least, you’re left looking rather red-faced as you try your best to wing it…

2: You did it with lights off

You’re halfway through the PowerPoint and things are going well. But then you hear a sound. Is it a wasp? A low flying plane? No, that’s the sound of your team having a crafty forty winks in the nice cosy darkness you’ve made for the. Do them and yourself a favour and leave the lights on. It’ll help you engage with your team, and you’ll not only be able to spot ant snoozers, you’ll also be able to see if anyone has any questions too.Mousetrap

3: You’re on the road to nowhere

Ever sat through a presentation that seems to go on forever? Chances are the presenter didn’t start with a simple summary at the start, outlining what the presentation is about and how long it should take. Give your audience a break. Tell them what you want them to get out of the session and how long you expect it take (clue: it should be too long).

4: You didn’t listen to point 3 properly

Common estimates of the attention span of healthy adults range from 10 to 20 minutes. So why are you still talking an hour later and getting frustrated that people have stopped listening? We appreciate that sometimes you have a lot of ground to cover, but you’re better off breaking it up into separate sessions, or at the very least including some interactive elements to prevent people from dropping off.

  1. You spat feathers

You started so well. Loud. Confident. But five minutes later and you’re rasping like a fifty-a-day smoker. If only you’d thought to bring a bottle of water with you to counteract the dry mouth brought on by a mixture of nerves, adrenaline and constant talking. But you didn’t, and now you sound like you’ve been up all night screaming at a Justin Bieber concert. (Bonus pitfall: You didn’t brink water for your guest speakers either and now they hate you too. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. Certainly don’t expect them to come and speak for you again.)

6: You turned into a teacher

You might not have a chalkboard and a cane, but you’re droning on and lecturing your poor listeners with the best of them. Half of them are sitting there scared they’re going to get a detention. Far better than simply going on and on, is to tell them a story, or even better, get them to tell you one back. By utilising story telling during workplace training, you are encouraging your staff to remember what they’ve learnt for longer, and perhaps even spread the word to family and friends!

7: You got WAY too heavy

We get it. Safety is serious. When you’re talking about accidents and lives lost, it’s sometimes tempting to use shock tactics to try and bring your point home. This can work, up to a point. But it’s important to balance it with moments of levity. Otherwise, you risk people switching off all together. If you’re planning your own presentation, a good way is to turn your advice on its head, so instead of focussing on what NOT to do, you look for positive thing they CAN do instead.

8: You forgot to breathe

You did it. You got all the way through your presentation without stumbling. And you did it in record time too – three minutes instead of the fifteen you’d allocated. But wait. Why are the audience staring at you blankly? It’s almost as if you were speaking a foreign language. Oh. You forgot to breathe, didn’t you? In your excitement to give a killer presentation, you rattled through it so fast, it ended up sounding like a tongue twister. So instead, relax. Take a breath and slow down. Just a little bit. There, isn’t that better? We can even understand you now…

9: You turned into a zombie

Dead eyes? Check. Slack jaw? Check. Monotonous mumbling? Double check. Congratulations. You just gave your presentation as an extra from the Walking Dead. Now rewind. Try again. Because if you want your audience to stay engaged, they need to see your passion. Make eye contact. Smile. Raise your voice to the rafters. Show them how important this stuff is. After all, you’re not just ticking a box. You’re giving them advice that could end up saving a life. And if that’s not something to getting excited about well… maybe it’s time to check your pulse!

No time to prepare your own presentation. We’ve put together a FREE family-focussed toolbox talk with videos and guidance notes for you to deliver to your team. Find out more here.

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