Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Seven phrases to avoid in your presentation

We often say strange things without being conscious of them. Here are seven phrases that you should not use in your presentation:

  1. “Going forward”. Just what the heck does that mean? Is it the opposite of “going backwards”? Instead of saying:”I think the market is going to crash going forward”, why not try “I think the market is going to crash.”
  2. “Quite frankly”. I used to have a boss who would use this phrase every time just before he told a lie. It was a dead giveaway.
  3. “To be honest with you”. Gee…I am glad you have decided to be honest with me. Thanks. So what you don’t say this again, does it mean you are not being honest with me?
  4. “At the end of the day”. You really mean to say “finally”, right?
  5. “Uniquely qualified”. No one is really uniquely qualified to do anything.
  6. “Full service firm”. There is no such thing. No one firm can do everything. Not even Wal-Mart.
  7. “My friend”. Unless you have been living under a rock, I bet you heard this repeatedly during the last presidential election. Stop already! I am not your friend. You don’t even know me.

Let me know if you have more of these. I know you do. So post a comment!

Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s new aircraft took off recently on its first test flight. It is supposed to be revolutionary in its design in terms of noise, safety and passenger comfort. The aircraft manufacturer released a YouTube video touting its new and improved features. Let’s look at it and see if the presentation tells you anything.

No it does NOT. Do you see the new arrangement of the seats in the coach section? No!

Does it show the new and improved leg room? No! It shows some seats in the business or first class.

Almost the entire video is made up of self-congratulatory hype by its employees – telling us how wonderful and responsive they are to their customers.

It doesn’t really tell us anything new. Does it?

Saying it differently every time

I have been thinking about what Olivia said in one of her many thoughtful comments here. She mentioned that presenters should “say it differently every time.” That is so true!

Unfortunately, many speakers don’t do that. They pull out their good old standard speech that they have given 30 times before and proceed to do it again for the 31st time – same delivery, same tone, same pitch, same old jokes, blah blah blah. They don’t know the audience. Worst yet – they don’t care. They don’t gauge their delivery AND content to the audience. They don’t realize that every audience is different – even though they may come from the same business sector. The whole presentation becomes a one-way conversation – from the speaker to the audience.

The best way to gauge an audience is to talk to them before your presentation – if you can. If you can’t, you can do a QUICK poll before your talk. I do that with my seminar participants. These are environmental managers with varying background and experience. Every group is different. I always go around the room after a very brief intro and ask them to answer three questions: what do you do? why are you here? what do you hope to get out of this 2 day seminar?

I then tailor my presentation accordingly. (By the way – no amount of rehearsal can prepare me for this!).

I know I know – I had said in an earlier post that you should not do polling. But that was for a one-hour webinar. For a 2-day seminar, it is OK to spend several minutes polling the audience. It also gives the audience a chance to know who their follow attendees are and begin the all-important process of networking among them.

An example of an excellent presentation

Here is a Keynote presentation made by Steve Jobs when he introduced the iPod back in 2001. It pretty much set the standards for good presentation. Not a single bullet point in sight. The most complicated slide is at around 2:50 when he showed a 4 x 4 comparison matrix that is easy to read and elegant. It is a joy to watch. We should all study it and learn from it.

See for yourself. As they say – the rest is history.