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Presentation Nightmares!

Bad dream image

What’s your worst nightmare?  Have you ever had bad dreams about . . .

  • Falling
  • Being naked or inappropriately dressed in public
  • Doing poorly on a test
  • Having car trouble
  • Being chased or attacked

Have you ever been awakened by a nightmare about delivering the speech or presentation from H***?

  • Zipper unzipped
  • Heckler out-of-control
  • Equipment disaster
  • Forgetting to turn off your lavaliere microphone when taking a bathroom break
  • People laughing at you–(not intended)
  • Many, many others

Read on to learn about real-life examples of speakers’ worst nightmares.  Some are funny, horrifying and some are downright unbelievable!

I recently conducted a LinkedIn poll asking one simple question:

The Question:

“Presentation blunders?  Think of the worst presentation you ever gave . . . what was the #1 reason for your ‘nightmare’?”  The multiple-choice responses and the corresponding votes included:

 1.     Equipment failure (26%)

2.     Not being fully prepared (25%)

3.     Boring slides or visual aids (9%)

4.     Not knowing your material (11%)

5.     Other (Please explain) (28%)

The question generated a high response.  118 professionals cast their votes; 26 people added personal comments about their nightmare experiences.   54% of the respondents were men/46% women.

Lessons Learned

What can we learn from this study in presentation skills?

There are many, many tips from the people who posted their personal stories.  To read them in full, please see:  http://linkd.in/13hFgFL

Top 5 Lessons

To appreciate the full experience of these honest people, you owe it to yourself to read the comments.  Based on my own experience as well as those who responded, I believe the most critical lessons learned include:

1.    Be prepared!

  • Anticipate problems.  This includes problems with equipment, room set-up, unexpected distractions, inability to get into the room ahead of your scheduled time, dead batteries, etc.
  • Anticipate questions.  Think about common, likely questions about your presentation, but also challenge yourself to think of the most difficult questions someone might ask—then have a logical response prepared.
  • Be well organized.  Avoid fumbling your papers, materials, notes, visuals, etc.

2.    Know your audience.

  • Who will you be speaking to?
  • What is the size of your audience?
    • What are their expected attitudes about your topic?
    • What are their “hot buttons”
    • How can you weave something about them into your presentation? (Demonstrate that you’ve customized your speech for them)

3.    Stay focused

  • Learn to relax at least 30 minutes before you go on stage
  • Practice deep breathing techniques to calm yourself before beginning your talk
  • Don’t panic!  If anything does go wrong, take a moment to focus on your main goal.
  •  Remember, most audiences are on your side—they want you to succeed!

4.    Practice, practice, practice!

  • Even though you created your own presentation, be sure to practice standing up and delivering your presentation with your slides or visual aids and a timer.
    • Video-record yourself
    • Review it and make notes of things you like and things you need to improve upon
    • Practice again, incorporating your changes
    • When you feel comfortable and natural in your delivery, then you know you are ready

5.    Have fun!

  • Be creative!  Be you!  Do something interesting to stand out from all the other speakers in the world.
  • Don’t forget to make your nonverbal behaviors work for you . . . not against you:

i.     Facial expressions, posture, gestures, movement

ii.     Smile . . . smile . . . smile!

iii.     Dress the part—your appearance really does matter

iv.     Relax—imagine that you are having a conversation with a group of friends

v.     Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Avoid coming across like you’re delivering a talk in a massive lecture hall

  • Find interesting stories, examples, surprising facts and/or current news stories to support your main ideas
  • Use intriguing graphics, images or even cartoons that are relevant to your message.  People love the element of surprise!

Let’s Hear From You!

If you have a story that just needs to be told, please email us at kathy@kathycooperman.com

We’d love to learn from your experiences, as well!



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