This article is by Nancy Duarte from the Harvard Business Review.  At some point in your career, you likely will be required to make a presentation.  Perhaps a job interview will require a presentation of your past experience.  This article is useful in listing the five most common mistakes presenters make when giving presentations.  Read this article if you have a presentation coming up.  The links at the end of the article provide more useful presentation articles.  Good luck!

We all know what it's like to sit through a bad presentation. We can easily spot the flaws — too long, too boring, indecipherable, what have you — when we watch others speak. The thing is, when we take the stage ourselves, many of us fall into the same traps.

Here are five of the most common, along with some tips on how to avoid them.

1. Failing to engage emotionally. You risk losing your audience when you just "state the facts," even in a business setting. No presentation should be devoid of emotion, no matter how cerebral the topic or the audience. Speak to people's hearts as well as their minds. Look for ways to add emotional texture to your exhibits, data, proofs, logical arguments, and other analytical content. Try opening with a story your audience can relate to, for example, or including analogies that make your data more meaningful.

To unearth the emotional appeal of your ideas, ask yourself a series of "why" questions. If you're requesting funding to pay for cloud storage, for instance, start by asking, "Why do we need cloud storage?" Your answer may be something like "to facilitate data sharing with colleagues in remote locations." Then ask why you need to accomplish that — and you'll eventually get to the human beings who will be affected by your ideas. Suppose your answer is "to help remote colleagues coordinate disaster relief efforts and save lives." That's your emotional hook. Once you've found it, it's easier to choose words and images that elicit empathy and support.

2. Asking too much of your slides. PowerPoint can be a great tool. But know what you're trying to accomplish with it. Do only that, nothing more. Problems crop up when you place too many elements in a slide deck. If you cram in all the points you're going to cover so you won't forget anything, you'll end up projecting entire documents when you speak. (Garr Reynolds aptly calls these hydra-headed beasts "
slideuments.") No one wants to attend a plodding read-along. It's boring, and people can read more efficiently on their own, anyway. So don't try to spell everything out bullet by exhausting bullet. Keep your teleprompter text hidden from the audience's view, in the "notes" field, and project only visuals that reinforce your ideas. And if you need to circulate documents afterward? Create handouts from all that text you've pulled off your slides and moved into "notes." 

3. Trotting out tired visuals. Nothing gets eyes a-glazing like a visual cliché. Want your presentation to stand out (in a good way) from the others your audience has seen? Brainstorm lots of visual concepts — and throw away the first ones that came to mind. They're the ones that occur to everyone else, too. That's why you've seen them a million times in other people's presentations. Generate several ideas for each concept you want to illustrate, and you'll work your way toward originality.

4. Speaking in jargon. Have you ever listened to a presenter who sounded super-smart without having any idea what she really said? If so, the presentation was probably full of jargon. Each field has its own lexicon that's familiar to experts but foreign to everyone else. Unless you're speaking to a group of people who are steeped in the material themselves, you're better off avoiding highly technical or industry-specific language. Use words that will resonate with those whose support and influence you must earn. If they can't follow your ideas, they won't adopt them. Consider whether your presentation passes the "grandmother test": If your grandmother wouldn't understand what on earth you're talking about, rework your message.

5. Going over your allotted time. There's nothing worse than a presentation that seems like it will never end. A great talk goes by quickly. People in your audience will never scold you for ending early, but they certainly will for ending late. So treat the time slot assigned to you as sacred. And keep in mind that people have a 30- to 40-minute presentation tolerance (they're conditioned by TV shows with creatively produced commercial breaks). Go longer than that, and they're sure to squirm.

This is the seventh and final post in Nancy Duarte's blog series on creating and delivering presentations, based on tips from her new book, the 
HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

Read the other posts here:
Post #1: 
How to Present to Senior Executives
Post #2: Create a Presentation Your Audience Will Care About
Post #3: Do Your Slides Pass the Glance Test 
Post #4: 
Structure Your Presentation Like a Story
Post #5: Disarm Your Audience When You Present
Post #6: Authentic Presentations Take Practice

Excerpts of this article were taken from a longer piece written by Lisa Petrilli of C-Level Strategies, Inc.

Introverts seek to be understood, as there are many myths that introverts are shy, socially inept, or lack strong communication skills. These myths about introversion are simply false. For introverts, their introversion should be viewed as a gift to be honored rather than a disability to overcome. This starts with a genuine understanding of introversion. Here’s what extroverts should know about their introverted colleagues in business:

1. We get the energy that drives us to succeed differently than you do.

We are energized by our inner world of ideas and insights. When we have time alone or with just one or two other people to mull over our thoughts, reflect on decisions, and play out strategies in our minds, we come away from the experience with more energy than when we went into it. We love this in our work!

You get your energy from being around others; the more people you’re around, the more energy you’re able to generate. For us, large group interaction is draining, and we need to recharge by being alone. We are not shy and it’s not that we don’t like you, it’s simply that we’re out of our comfort zone “energetically” around you and must prioritize time to recharge in order to continue to bring our best self to our work.

2. We think inside our heads.

Because we get our energy from our inner world of ideas, we are comfortable there. When we are asked a question, or when someone shares information with us, our natural inclination is to ruminate for a few moments silently. This is critically important for you to understand, particularly if you’re having a phone conversation with an introvert.

I have a CEO client who is exceptionally extroverted and likes to run ideas by me over the phone. He once commented to me after sharing one of his ideas, “You hate it, I just know it! Every time you get quiet I know you hate it!” Well, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. When I responded, “I actually love it, but I’m an introvert and need to take a few moments to think about it in my head,” our working relationship opened up in a way I’d never expected. We realized that all along my lengthy phone pauses were being misunderstood by him. It was a case of unintended miscommunication between an introvert and extrovert.


"It won’t be the problem that defines you; 
it will be how you managed through it."