Four presentation pitfalls, and how business leaders can overcome them

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Consumer behaviour has changed and the way marketers deliver content has had to change right along with it.  The rise of ubiquitous connectivity, social media, YouTube, and mobile technology means we have access to visual and textual information at our fingertips. Everywhere you look, brands are trying to grab attention, whether it’s through adverts on TV or on the underground, or product placements in popular TV shows or on Instagram.

With so much visual chatter, it can be hard to know how to cut through the noise, especially for businesses who are looking to compete with the big fish, but might not have the wealth of advertising or marketing budget in their back pocket.

According to InsideSales, 73 per cent of B2B marketers and sales leaders said a webinar is one of the best ways to generate high quality leads. Indeed, presentations can be used by businesses to reach customers or prospects in an engaging way, to generate leads, or offer on-demand or live training, all with the end goal of driving more business. But with shortening attention spans and everyone vying for consumers time, there’s very little room for error when it comes to delivering presentations. So, what pitfalls do business leaders need to avoid?

1 - Overcrowding

They say a tidy desk is a tidy mind, and the same approach should be applied to presentations. As the presenter, you should want to limit the amount of distractions in the room, and this should include what’s in the presentation itself. Trying to cram as much information as possible into a slide will only overwhelm, and clutter the minds of your audience. If they have to listen to what you’re saying, as well as try and take in everything on a slide, the chances of attention slipping away increase.

2 - Text-heavy slides

Presentations should be seen as a visual aid, to the story that the presenter is trying to tell. Business leaders who present text-heavy slides are likely to lose attention, as the audience struggles to focus on what’s on the screen, and what’s being said out loud.

Images are a great way of engaging an audience, making points more memorable, and conveying complex concepts. This is especially important if the presenter is trying to reach a new audience that isn’t familiar with the topics being discussed.

However, it’s also important to only select images strategically. If it’s just there for the sake of adding a visual element without serving a purpose, it just becomes another distraction. It’s also essential that high-resolution pictures are selected. While the deck might look perfect on a mobile or laptop screen, when it’s blown up and pixelated it won’t be useful to anyone.

3 - Making it all about you

While the layout of a presentation is important, the content also has to hit the mark. One of the easiest ways to lose someone’s attention is to make them feel like they’re getting nothing out of the interaction, so it’s important to convey why what you’re saying is relevant to the audience, even if you’re selling your own services.

An easy way to do this is by thinking from an audience’s perspective. What are their pain points, what do they want to achieve and how can you help them given their specific circumstances. And it’s important to be explicit as an audience might not necessarily connect the dots themselves, especially if they aren’t already familiar with your brand.

Selectin a title that follows a list, ‘how to’ or ‘101’ format demonstrates expertise, and conveys clear value to the audience from the outset. Similarly, using trending topics or titles with the word ‘new’ will attract people who want to be seen at the cutting edge of the conversation.

Fostering audience participation will also allow them to get more from the webinar. Allowing participants to ask questions throughout the webinar, rather than solely at the end, will ensure everyone gets their voice heard, and that questions aren’t self-selected to serve an agenda. If time restrictions don’t allow for that, make sure the audience is directed to a place where they can answer questions and receive a timely response. 

4 – Acting like a robot

Layout and content are important, but so is delivery. Public speaking comes more naturally to some than others, but a monotonous, robotic tone, is a sure-fire way of putting an audience to sleep.

Allowing personality to come through in a presentation will demonstrate to the audience that you have a passion about the subject matter, and this enthusiasm should rub off. After all, if the presenter doesn’t sound interested, why should they be?

Including a personal anecdote, or a joke here and there, will go a long way to keeping the audience engaged. Similarly, fostering audience participation will not only help the presentation feel like a two-way human conversation but also ensure that the presenter isn’t just talking to a room of blank faces for an hour.

Not taking next steps

Once a presentation is over, business leaders who don’t share next steps, and give the audience actionable items are missing the opportunity to retain attention even after they’ve left the room. Asking the audience to engage on social media is also a great way of nurturing the relationship beyond the presentation. But this should be done towards the end, otherwise you risk losing the audience in the first 60 seconds of the presentation because they’re scrolling LinkedIn.

Business leaders should also make the presentation sharable, so that audiences can return back to it at a later date, as well as share with other colleagues, and on social media, expanding your reach.

Cutting through the noise and chatter of the digital world is harder than ever for businesses. To be the loudest in the room, you need to know how to effectively present and market your ideas. Delivering captivating presentations can be the differentiator that helps your brand attract the right attention from the right people; essential for any business looking to navigate their way to success in the always-on, digital world.

Daniel Waas, Director of Marketing, GoToWebinar, by LogMeIn.
Image source: Shutterstock/Pressmaster