Avoid boring your audience to death

Tips for avoiding common presentation traps

Nobody likes having to endure a bad presentation, but making a good one is much easier said than done. There are five typical mistakes people make in presentations, writes Nancy Duarte at Harvard Business Review, and there are strategies for avoiding them.

First, don't just state the facts. You need to get the audience engaged emotionally, and you can do it by sharing stories and analogies that will resonate with the audience. Find an "emotional hook" for your argument, Duarte suggests, and use it lure in support.

Second, don't demand too much from PowerPoint. "No one wants to attend a plodding read-along. It's boring, and people can read more efficiently on their own, anyway," she points out. Show only visuals that support your points and if the audience needs a lot of text, give them handouts.

Third, don't use the same old visuals we've all seen a thousand times. Instead of showing a lock and key as a metaphor for security, Duarte suggests showing a Doberman Pinscher.

Fourth, don't use jargon unless you're sure your audience is immersed in the same lexicon.

And fifth, don't yammer on past your time limit. "People in your audience will never scold you for ending early, but they certainly will for ending late," Duarte writes. "So treat the time slot assigned to you as sacred."

For more:
- see Nancy Duarte's post at Harvard Business Review

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