You Probably Shouldn't Have Said That...
Regardless of where you are in your education, whether you are in high school, college, or even graduated, you have most likely given at least one presentation. In that presentation I can guarantee that you have said a few of these phrases, myself included, that should be avoided at all costs. According to Kevin Eikenberry's blog, there are eight phrases that we are all guilty of saying.
Next time you are giving a presentation...avoid saying these eight things:
1. "You probably can't read this...."
If you are the one making the slides, why wouldn't you think about this from the beginning? If you don't think the information on the slide can be easily read by everyone you are presenting to then fix it before. Show that you prepared and if you have to separate the information onto more than one slide then do so. Being a great presenter is about more than speaking well and engaging you audience, it's about the visual presentation as well.
2. "I didn't really have time to prepare but..."
If you inform your audience that you didn't have time to prepare you are basically telling them that you had better things to be doing. If you say this during a presentation and I am in the audience, I'd automatically tune you out. You obviously didn't think this was important so why should I? If you aren't as prepared as you feel you should have been that's fine. Just don't announce it. From my experience with last minute presentation and their evaluations, your audience won't even know the difference.
3. "Wow, I know I'm out of time but let me run through these last 15 slides quickly."
Have you ever tried cramming 15 pages of information into your memory as you walk to class to take an exam? How well did you actually remember that information? That same idea can be used here. If you run through 15 slides as fast as possible, how much of that information do you actually think your audience is going to retain? I'll tell you. Not much. To avoid this, summarize key points. Remember it is not about the slides, those are there as an aid, not to serve as a script so it is okay if you don't follow them word for word especially when you are short on time. Another way to avoid this situation is to practice beforehand. This will allow you to get a better idea about how long it will take you to get through all of the information. Also, be sure to leave time at the end for questions.
4. "I have a lot of information to cover, so let's get started..."
This is what Eikenberry refers to as the 'kiss of death' to your audience who is most likely already expecting to be bored for the next hour or so. Lots of information mean lots of confusion and you will most likely be speeding through it, too. An alternative to this sentence may be to summarize what you will be talking about or just start talking. If you feel you have a lot to cover, be sure you spend extra time preparing so you don't risk confusing or boring your audience too much. Also, try to break up the information with questions or some audience interaction. You aren't just there to spew out information, you are there to help your audience understand the information.
5. "I'm sorry for the technical difficulties."
If you have truly prepared for the presentation, you would have thought about a back up plan incase technical difficulties were to occur. As I mentioned earlier, your slides are there as an aid. Have a printed out copy of your slides in case you experience technical difficulties and if you planned to pull up a link or show a video, have a back up plan too. The most painful thing to watch is a presenter who planned on showing a video that didn't work trying to explain what the video was about.
6. "Does anyone have a laser pointer?" or "I'm not sure how this clicker works."
As you probably have noticed, there is a reoccurring theme in this post: BE PREPARED! No laser pointer? No clicker? Either bring one with you or go on without one. A laser pointer or clicker doesn't make the presentation better and announcing to the whole audience that you are not as prepared as you should be won't go over well with them.
7. "Any questions?"
Of course you want people to ask questions and typically most people have at least one by the time the presentation is finished. With that being said, you want to end your presentation strong by summarizing what you just said or stating a call to action, not by asking for questions. Before you being the presentation, let your audience know that they can ask questions throughout it. This is especially important if the presentation is long. A great question may not be asked because the slide it was about was discussed 45 minutes ago.
8. "As you can clearly see..."
The information you think is so 'clear to see' seems obvious and understandable to you because you are the one presenting on it. We'd like to think that it's 'clear' to your since you are supposed to be the expert on this topic. Avoid using this sentence and just explain it. Even if it seems clear to most of your audience. you may also make someone feel stupid if they can't clearly see it. Just explain.