Why most presentations fail

When it comes to presenting, most IT managers struggle, , , and they struggle for several reasons.

First, they are uncomfortable getting in front of people. Guess what, , , this is true for most people, not just IT managers, , , but it is something that you can and will overcome with practice.

I remember being scared to death the first time I had to make a short 5-minute presentation, , , that’s right, “truly scared”. You wouldn’t notice it now because I don’t get nervous when I need to make a presentation. The reason is because I’ve done it a lot, but in my early career years it was a very intimidating issue for me.

The key is being prepared and knowing your material.

Another reason IT managers struggle with presenting is because they haven’t learned how. Presenting and communicating is not what you “jump out of bed in the morning to go do”, , , it is simply not a fun or interesting thing to do for most of us who find ourselves in the IT world.

When you do have an opportunity to make a presentation, you want it to be a good one. There are three key reasons most presentations fail, so I’m about to share them with you and give you quick and easy solutions to help you be successful.

Problem #1 – Too much text
This is by far the worst problem. IT people are high detail and we tend to try to put all the content we want to say on a slide. I’m sure you have seen a slide like the one below where there are lengthy detail bullet points the presenter talks about, , , or worse yet, reads from the slide.

Nothing turns an audience off faster than when the presenter simply reads his slides.

The good news is that there is certainly some valuable content on this slide, but there are many problems with it:

  • Too busy
  • Includes too many points
  • Not memorable
  • BORING

We will address these issues in a few minutes.

Problem #2 – People don’t understand your message
When there is lots of text on a slide it creates a challenge for your audience. Most people have difficulty in reading and listening at the same time, , , plus many who are high detail tend to take notes as well. That’s as many as three things going on, , , and what gets the least amount of a person’s attention is the listening part when you have all of this activity.

There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the competition that’s taking place in getting your audience to listen and to hear you, , , and one of the best ways to help people understand your message is by creating an environment where they can focus on your verbal message.

  1. Create slides that contain one key point
  2. Spend time to discuss your point so it is understood
  3. Discuss your points in conversational mode
  4. Prepare handouts to minimize the note taking

In the case of our sample, it’s better to have 6 or 8 slides to discuss all of these points than to try and discuss them from 1 slide. Multiple slides won’t be as busy, you will have your audience’s attention for the key point you are making on each slide, and you have room to make the slide more interesting, , , and maybe even memorable.

Problem #3 – People’s memories are limited
In most cases, people only remember about 20-30% of what you tell them. Knowing this to be the case is a plus and gives you insight to do some things that will help your audience “remember” your presentation.

  • Handouts can help
  • Images are memorable and make a presentation more interesting
  • Repeat key points to drive home your message

Let’s take our example, , , a “presentation remake” is in order. Below are revised slides that I think help you achieve better understanding, create more interest, and make your presentation more memorable.

Slide-1:  Start the presentation with “why” project management is so important. Your audience needs to hear, “what’s in it for me” and “why this presentation is important” right up front.

Slide-2:  Next, lay out the three phases of project management (project definition, project development, and project execution). Then explain that 70% of a project’s success is based upon the planning (project definition and development) work done in the beginning before you actually start doing any of the project work.

Slide #3:  The first phase is Project Definition. Explain the two key things are defining the project goals and objectives and quantifying specific project deliverables.

Slide #4:  You don’t have a real project unless your project sponsor agrees with the objectives and what you will deliver.

Slide #5:  Phase 2 is Project Development. Once you know what is required (objectives and deliverables), you develop the project plan made up of the Project Scope document, Project Schedule, and Budget. When you have all the tasks identified, you know the skills required so you can assemble a competent project team.

Slide #6:  Developing the project schedule is a key part of the plan. It defines what needs to be done to complete the project (tasks), who should do the work, and when the work must be completed to deliver the project successfully.

Slide #7:  Phase 3 is Project Execution. Executing the project means kicking off the project to get everyone on the same page and manage your team’s expectations and then monitoring and shepherding the project along to success with project status meetings.

It takes a few more slides but your total discussion will be about the same amount of time. Show the slides and discuss the key point of each slide, , , don’t read text.

It will make a big difference in your next presentation by helping your audience better understand your material and make it more memorable.

 

One response to “Why most presentations fail

  1. Good summary/example. And consider Toastmasters!

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