10 Ways to Make Sure That A Presentation Doesn't Flop

Everyone at some point has had to give a presentation. They're a lot of work aren't they? And good golly the jitters that come along with having to actually present the thing in front of real human being people types! What if something goes wrong? What do you do when the microphone stops working or your PowerPoint slides go MIA? Do you run away screaming or do you handle it like a boss? You handle it like a boss. Of course you do. But just in case, since we find ourselves doing a lot of presentations around here, we've got a few tips for you anyway.

  1. Have different length versions of your presentation just in case you get cut short or have extra time. Practice every version if you can just in case someone ahead of you goes over and only leaves you two minutes when you planned on twenty.
  2. If it's a big presentation, video yourself doing it and then watch the video. This way, you'll know how your audience sees you and you can fix any rough spots. This may be painful, but it's very helpful.
  3. Know your main points and take-aways like coffee knows a cup. This will help wrap up the presentation or come in handy in case your time is shortened.
  4. If doing a PowerPoint, bring backup: put it on a spare flash drive and print it out. If something goes kaput on you, you can still work from your PowerPoint. Use your hands to help demonstrate any diagrams that may be in your slides if there's no whiteboard available.
  5. Bring a dry erase marker (Not a permanent one. Learned that the hard way…)
  6. Don't hesitate to be a bit more animated in your gestures to keep people focused.
  7. Know all the ins and outs of the software you are using. If something is going to go wrong, it's going to be now. Know how to fix it fast. If there's a massive breakdown, ask for help instead of spending your presenting time trying to fix it. Here's where the above comes in handy. You already know your presentation highlights and you have a printout and a dry erase marker. You should be all set until the technical difficulties are clear.
  8. Keep your sense of humor intact. You are a human being; your audience is made of human beings (we hope). Do not forget this. Use humor to deflect any awkward moments that may happen.
  9. Make a list and check it twice. Having a checklist of all the things you'll need, no matter how silly and detailed it seems, is a good idea. Heck, write down "put on socks, tie shoes" if it will help you stay organized and ease some of the worry you might have over forgetting something. Lists are good. You should have one. Or many. Whatever works.
  10. Smile and be friendly. A smile goes a very long way to putting yourself and your audience at ease, so even if you have to fake it at first, slap a smile on anyway. Soon, everyone will be smiling back at you. Oh, and while you're doing all that smiling, don't forget to breathe. Studies show that most people prefer conscious presenters.

These are only a few things you can do to make sure you're prepared in case Murphy's Law comes to bite you right in the PowerPoint. Please share your presentation horror or success stories in the comments! If things went wrong, how did you handle it? If it went well, what did you do to help make sure they did?

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