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4 PERFECTIONISTIC MISTAKES THAT ARE KILLING YOUR PRESENTATIONS

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Everyone knows that preparation is essential when it comes to effective entrepreneurial pitches or presentations. But are your perfectionistic tendencies actually ruining your chances of success?

Recently at Tech Park Academy, public speaking guru Kenny Nguyen of Big Fish Presentationsshared his wisdom. Not only did Kenny  write a book on presentations, but his work has been featured on Forbes and even commended by Bill Clinton. He also gave a TED Talk about defying expectations.

According to Kenny, your A-type personality won't do you any favors if you make these four presentation mistakes:

Point #1: You Started with a Perfect Outline

Outlines are often how highly organized people start their content creation process. However, for presentations, outlines can be lousy.

Here’s why:

  • They obscure the focus from one main idea, turning presentations into “laundry lists” of info
  • They can go on forever, leading to overly long presentations
  • They put distance between the main idea and the supporting points, weakening the argument overall

Action Item: Use this diagram instead of an outline.

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Here’s how the diagram above works.

  1. Start by identifying your big idea. What’s the one thing you want the audience to do? Buy a product, make an investment, or see the value proposition? Put this idea in the center circle.
  2. Next, go around the circle and add the three (ONLY THREE ) smaller points that support this main idea. For longer presentations, add more points.
  3. Come up with a killer opener in the first circle. 
  4. In the final circle, create a compelling call to action. Examples include visiting a website, calling a number, making an investment, etc. This is the most important point; don’t lead your audience on a journey they can’t finish, Kenny says. 

 Point #2: Your Argument is Perfectly Logical 

This mistake occurs when you obsess intellectually over your presentation. You mull over every possible counter argument, fill in every gap, until finally, you are infallible.

And as you present your invincible case, your audience falls asleep.  What went wrong?

Ultimately, says Kenny, audiences connect with presentations on an emotional level, not a logical one. Remember: people aren’t computers, so don’t try to program them.

Action Item: Tell stories.

There’s no better way to make your audience feel something than by telling them a compelling story. Narratives are entertaining, illustrative, and usually  easy to tell. 

There’s an entire science to storytelling, but in general, but be sure to include at least the following three components in your story:

  • A protagonist
  • An antagonist
  • Suspense 

Point #3: You Have the Perfect Slide Deck Presentation

By now, you may have heard criticisms of PowerPoint-type presentations: they’re a crutch, they’re mundane, they’re amateurish.

That’s all debatable, but there is at least one objective flaw in slide-driven presentations: they're static.

You’re audience, on the other hand, is dynamic, unique, and unpredictable. You must be able to adapt.

Action Item: Use a flip chart.

Flip charts are like slide decks you can make on the fly. They allow you to engage your audience responsively, and supplement slide deck presentations nicely.

Here are some tips for using flip charts in your presentation:

  • Never stand in front of the chart.
  • Fill in the chart with audience input; make it theirs.
  • Use diagrams and graphics. Simple ones.
  • Position the chart to maximize audience visibility.

Point #4: You Created the Perfect Slides

Many people mistakenly associate perfect slides with clarity and completeness. But, like people, sometimes a flaw is what makes a slide interesting.

When your slides are telling your whole story, then why does the audience need you? They don’t, and as such, you won’t make a personal impact.

Action Item: Make slides that pique interest ONLY.

Your slides should be conversations starters. One way to  accomplish this is to add some intentional “mistakes."

For example, one of Kenny’s favorite slides simply reads: “Turning virtual teeth into a reality.” Sounds cool, it doesn’t make any sense on its own. This is where the presenter comes in: to save a bewildered audience.

Another of Kenny’s powerful slides was created to illustrate importance of charitable vision correction. The slide was completely blurry at first, so that the audience could feel the reality of visual impairment, as opposed to being told about it.

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There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist, but sometimes, manufactured mistakes lead to a better product. People aren’t perfect, and neither is your audience, so make sure your presentation is emotional, dynamic, and occassionally, slightly dysfunctional. 

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Stephen Loy