Publications & Products
Volume 3, Issue 13

Things to Avoid Saying during a Presentation

A speaker can lose an audience in the first minute of a presentation by saying something inappropriate, says a communications expert.

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, founder of a media company, recently shared with The Next Web several phrases leaders should avoid saying during presentations. They include:

  • Can you hear me? Yes, you can. "This is how a lot of people start their talk," van Zanten says. "They will tap a microphone three times, shout ‘can you all hear me in the back' and then smile apologetic when it becomes clear that, yes, everybody can hear you but nobody raises their hands. It isn't your responsibility to check the audio. There will be people for that... Assume it all works until the opposite has been proven, then stay calm and wait for a fix."
  • I can't see you because the lights are too bright. "Yes, when you are on stage the lights are bright and hot and it will be difficult to see the audience," he says. "But [the audience doesn't] have to know about all that. Just stare into the dark, smile often and act like you feel right at home on [stage]. Feel free to walk into the audience if you want to see [people] up close. Don't cover your eyes to see people, but politely ask the lights people to turn on the lights in the room if you plan to count hands or ask the audience a question."
  • Shut off your phones/laptops/tablets. "Once upon a time, you could ask an audience to shut off [its] devices," van Zanten says. "That was a long time ago. Now people tweet the awesome quotes you produce or take notes on their iPads. Or they play solitaire or check Facebook... You can ask if people [would] turn their phones to silent mode, but apart from that you just have to make sure that your talk is so incredibly inspiring people will close their laptops because they don't want to miss a second of it."
  • I'll get to that later. "If you happen to stumble upon an audience that is eager to learn and interact, you should always grab that chance and enjoy it," he says. "If someone has a question that you will address in a later slide, just skip to it right away. If someone is brave enough to raise [his or her] hand and ask you a question, you should compliment [him or her] and invite the rest of the audience to do the same."

This article is from the Sept. 23, 2013 issue.

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