Aug 25, 2009

Why are you talking to the screen?


When I asked people a few weeks back what they hated most in a presentation, I got interesting answers. One of them was by Dr. Singh and he said; "I do not like when the presenter is talking to the slide and not to me."

Does it not ring a bell?
Many a times you as a presenter end up making this mistake. You look at the slide and start talking.

How does the audience feel when you do this? They are offended. They hate it. Hate it enough to remember it and share it with me when I approach them with a survey.

Why does it happen?

It happens when you are not prepared with your content. When you have not rehearsed well. When you prepare the slides a night before and don't even remember the order in which you put your slides. This forces you to keep looking at the slide so that you don't forget.

The obvious solution is to rehearse well and go.
But let's accept the fact that you know what you 'should' do. Yet how often do you follow that. How many times have you prepared a presentation two days in advance so that you can rehearse it. Reality is, you don't even worry about rehearsal. Rehearsal is for others, not for you.

So the not so obvious solution is: "Keep a small paper pad in your hand and write down the main points, in the order you need to cover them. Avoid long sentences.
Prioritize and DO NOT write down every thing. Write down 1 thing for every slide and do not make notes for all the slides. Make notes only for slides which are the most important ones."

If you are presenting with a laptop in front, then the chances of your forgetting are less. However, looking at the laptop most of the time would be as good as looking at the slides. Your audience is not going to like it.

If you think you cannot carry notes to the presentation and manage to keep referring to it, then the only solution which remains is to rehearse well. You are like any of your friends. Everybody needs to rehearse and so do you.