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4 Tips to Prevent Presentation Mistakes

Presenting in front of people can be nerve–wracking, and mistakes may occur – it doesn’t matter if it is in person or online. Many of us tend to be hard on ourselves and think that we look like a fool if we make a mistake or that we’ll be judged as incompetent – so harsh.

We don’t have to feel this way. Following these tips will help you avoid four common mistakes when you're in the spotlight.


Mistake #1: Focusing on things that don’t matter

When speaking aloud to anyone, even in a casual setting, people tend to use filler words to allow their brains to catch up. Filler words can take the form of "um," "like," "okay," "you know," and so on, and these are common and natural. An excellent way to check OVERUSE of fillers is by recording yourself and tallying every time you stall the wording of your message.

Be your own gentle critic, and weigh the use of filler words accordingly.  Unless you are aiming to be a public orator, your audience will forgive minor idiosyncrasies IF you focus on what matters most (hint: see Mistake #4).


Mistake #2: Not practicing effectively

Creating a script is one thing, and practicing it is the next logical step. But most presenters do not practice effectively. It is not uncommon for even the most seasoned presenters to still be editing slides and memorizing notes the night before a presentation.

It’s time to evolve your practice regime by locking in your slides well in advance and practicing aloud without reading from your speaker notes. Practice your opening AND you’re closing while anticipating your audience’s responses, and space your practice rather than bottleneck in the 11th hour.

Recognizing how stressful public speaking can be, elevate your skills by performing full dress rehearsals. Not only is this an effective way to run through your lecture or pitch or team meeting reports, but it can also hone your body-language skills, one of many common oversights when presenting both online and in-person.


Mistake 3: Distracting habits or clothing

Have you ever watched someone speak and been distracted by a consistent pen-clicking or layered bracelets that jingle with every movement?

It's a surprisingly common mistake to have an unforeseen fashion or habit faux pas when speaking with a group of participants. Consider taking a good hard look at your choice of jewelry, watches, or squeaky shoes before taking center stage.


Mistake 4: Impersonal, disconnected presence

It's easy for a well-rehearsed (or memorized) pitch to sound 'canned' or like you're reading from a script; however, this will not create a connection with your audience. Carefully curated speeches should be reserved for Toastmasters competitions and press releases. Instead, find a way to make your presentation personal, as if you're telling a story or engaging in a conversation with your audience. Whether your audience is large or small, online or offline, people like to feel they're interacting with other humans.


Avoiding these mistakes is among many considerations you will need to take to achieve your objective and win the hearts and minds of your audience. The unifying themes here are self-confidence and connection, both of which lead to dramatic and positive changes in your income - whether you work for yourself or someone else or have a foot in both lanes.

Confidence, connection, and being prepared always wins.


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