5 Presentation Problems Every Business Leader Needs To Avoid

by Andrea Pacini

Think about how technology has evolved over the last 20 years or so. Think about the tools we can use today to communicate our ideas to the world. Now, compare that with the tools we had a few years ago. Today in most industries we have more competition—not only from a business perspective but also from a communication perspective.

The tools we have today are designed to empower people—lots of people—to share their message with the world.

And that’s a good thing. Today, anyone from anywhere in the world can communicate with their clients from their bedroom. Today, anyone from anywhere in the world can do that for free. Today, anyone from anywhere in the world who has an idea also has a massive potential to get their idea heard.

Having said that, it’s not that simple.

Technology makes communication so “easy” that there’s a lot of noise out there. Everyone is communicating and this makes it harder for you to stand out.

Today more than ever, having a good idea isn’t good enough. If you have a good idea—be it a product, a service or a business—you need to be able to communicate it in an effective way.

Business owners, leaders and their teams who struggle to present a compelling message face five key problems.

1. Their message is too complex

They know so much about their subject and are so close to it that they think that everything is important. So they think they need to communicate everything. But from the audience’s perspective, if everything is important, nothing is important. Most business leaders include too much information in their presentations. They overpack their message and find it hard to simplify it.

They think their message is simple and clear but the audience thinks it’s confusing. And in communication if you confuse you lose—you lose your audience and their attention.

Because of that, the audience doesn’t understand their message, doesn’t remember it and they don’t act.

2. They follow an uncertain process

So many presenters tell me, “I’ve been presenting for a long time but every time I do, I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I don’t know if the process I’m following is correct.” They lack confidence not in themselves but in the process. Audience analysis, brainstorming, storyline, slide design, rehearsing. There is a structured way of thinking about presenting. Not following a proven process creates discomfort in front of an audience.

3. They miss out on important opportunities

Businesses lose deals, sales and money because of how leaders and their teams present. Businesses get stuck because of how we communicate our ideas. And you don’t have to be running your own business to see the impact of this. If you’re a business leader, you’re the face of your company. So bad presentations affect the image of your company and your credibility as well.

4. Their message is not relevant

Let’s say that in a few weeks you need to give a presentation and today you start working on it. Where would you start? What’s the first thing you do when preparing a presentation?

What we see every day is that the first thing most business leaders do is they open PowerPoint. Or they start thinking about their message, the outline or the agenda. The latter approach is better than starting with PowerPoint but it’s not the first thing you want to do.

When you give a presentation, you’re communicating with someone, so you need to start with them. When you give a presentation, it’s their presentation, not yours. It’s the audience’s presentation.

Think of a presentation as a present. If I want to give you a present, it’s your present not mine, so I need to make sure I know you so that I can buy something you like. When you give people a presentation, it’s their presentation not yours. So you need to make sure you know your audience before you open PowerPoint or think about your message. Your message depends on the audience, their needs and the context.

5. Their call to action isn’t specific

What do you want your audience to do? What’s the immediate next step you want your audience to take? So many presenters aren’t specific enough when it comes to their call to action.

Let’s take the example of a webinar where the aim is for the audience to express their interest in a discovery call. Most presenters say something like “If you think you need a bit of help on[their area of expertise], then I’m happy to offer a 30-minute discovery call.”

The problem is, even if somebody in the audience wants a discovery call, they don’t know what they need to do. They don’t know how to signal their interest. As a result, they won’t do it. The call to action isn’t specific.

Instead, you could say something like “If you’d like to learn more about how what we’ve covered today could work for you, you can express your interest today in a 30-minute discovery call via Zoom. Just type YES in the chat now and we’ll get in touch to see if you qualify. If that’s the case, we’ll arrange a time for a call.”

In this case people know what they have to do to signal their interest. They simply need to type YES in the chat. It’s a small change that makes a huge difference.

In summary

In this article we covered the five key problems business leaders face when giving presentations.

The consequence of this isn’t good.

Most ideas fail only because of how we communicate them. Often the idea is great, the problem is how we present our idea. It might sound a bit dramatic but that’s what we see every day. This is what creates frustration for missing out on important opportunities. And the more that happens, the less confident we are as presenters.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

And this leads to a different story which will need another article.

PS: If you want to become one of the best presenters in your industry, take the Confident Presenter Scorecard to assess how you currently stand on following the 5 principles of powerful presentations. Free of charge—no strings attached in less than 3 minutes.

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