Two weeks from now I will MC my friend’s wedding. This will be my first time. I have only recently become comfortable presenting to a small meeting room. Even then I am nervous regardless of how well I prepared.

In my angst at commanding the ceremony I did a little research.

I found a few articles in the realm of MC guides, presentation guides and even interview guides. In these I noted some recurring patterns, the guidelines were all quite similar.

What is most common are the mistakes one can make in these contexts.

Here are the common mistakes to avoid when presenting, mastering ceremonies or interviewing:

Not understanding your audience.

Find out who you will be speaking to. Do some research and understand their background particularly about the topic.

If it’s an interview, find out who your interviewer is and have a look at their LinkedIn profile.

If you are presenting to an audience understand how well they know the topic.

Leaving too much unknown

What we fear is what we don’t know.

Know your key message, know your audience, rehearse, and know your slides.
This will build your confidence.

Jumping straight into PowerPoint

Start with paper.
Ask yourself and answer these questions:

What purpose do you want to fulfil with your presentation?
Why are you presenting this?
What does your audience expect from you that they can’t get from reading a similar article?

The answers to this will guide the structure of your presentation.

Start with pen and paper

Start with pen and paper

Overloading your audience with unnecessary information.

Tell a story. An enticing beginning, an engaging middle and a clear conclusion at the end.
Don’t add more than necessary to tell the story.

If you are using slides, for example, avoid having slides with more than 3 bullet points of text.
Remember a picture says 1 000 words and it is easier to remember.

Making it too complicated

Keep it simple. Your audience wants you to make the material easier to understand and remember. This is why you are presenting and not sending an essay or article.

Get to the essence of your message.
Ask yourself: “If my audience had to remember 3 things, what would those be?”

Forgetting to answer the question “So what?”

This is what your audience is asking while you present.

Always ensure you answer the question before switching topics.

Failing the elevator test

If you had to cut your presentation time in half would you be able to get the key message across?

Try this:
Determine if you can write the key message on the back of a business card. Do this when planning your presentation.

Not telling stories

Bring your message to life with stories that the audience can relate to. Don’t forget to understand your audience and think of stories you can use in the planning phase. Stories will help to simplify complex ideas.

Good stories have an enticing beginning, an engaging middle and a clear conclusion at the end.

Use stories

Use stories

Using low quality graphics in your slides

Don’t use any image from the internet without making sure it looks good when presenting. Stretching a low resolution image so it fits will look unprofessional.

You can take your own photos or find high quality images using Google search (find free-to-use images).

Also subscribe to Death to Stock Photo to receive free-to-use beautiful stock images every month.

Using too many fonts in your slide deck

Keep your fonts consistent and try to stick to two complementary fonts.
Ensure they are easy to read.

A weak start

The first 2-3 minutes of the presentation are the most important. Remember to start strong, don’t ramble and make your intentions clear early on.

Hiding behind the podium

If you can move away from the podium, then do so. Removing barriers will help you to connect with your audience.

Not making eye contact

Don’t just scan the group, try to make eye contact with individuals in your audience.

Being unprofessional

This is important for large groups and interviews.

When someone is being difficult, remain calm and be assertive. True professionals always remain cool and in control.



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