4 Things Not to Say in a Presentation

Giving a PowerPoint presentation for an audience large or small is like flying a plane, according to Boris van Zanten in a recent blog post. The co-founder and CEO of TheNextWeb.com, an online tech news hub, says, “You are taking the audience by the hand and guiding them somewhere. Nobody wants to see a pilot with shaky hands or a captain seemingly lost at the wheel.”

Most of the missteps made by people guiding a presentation are intuitive. Here’s the sage advice of van Zanten and other presentation pundits:

• “Can you all hear me back there?” Make sure the sound system is working before you start.

• “Can you all read that?” Consider the people in your audience. Is it an older group or a younger group? The font size on your slides should correspond.

• “This presentation is about…” Don’t waste time telling the audience what you are going to say, communications coach Nick Morgan advises. Instead, tell people why they’re listening to you. Get one interesting idea, and say it with enthusiasm.

• “I didn’t have much time to prepare.” Instead of sandbagging, open with an attention-grabber, because you have only about 15 seconds to capture your audience, says Ethan Rotman, who presents workshops for speakers.

Check out 4 scientific principles behind a killer presentation.


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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