I am not a negative person. I tend to focus on what to do more than what not to do.
That being said, I can think of things speakers should NOT do to improve, or to not damage what might otherwise be a good presentation.
1. Do NOT read your presentation –
Gone are the days when you should need cards, or notes, or prompts of some sort. Indeed, the amateur will use these crutches. But not the professional. The man or woman who has so much information to give that s/he must have notes is not a professional speaker. S/he is a professional in another field and is using the speaker’s platform.
2. Do NOT stuff your presentation full of quotes and statistics –
Most facts are literally a fingertip away from your listeners. What they want is for you to tell them what all those facts and stats mean. Aggregate and digest the information. The organizers have vetted you. That’s why you are on the stage. Now give the audience something only you know.
3. Do NOT cram too much information into your slides –
Most speakers who overload their slides do it to help them remember what to say. See number 1. Think the minimum number of words necessary to emphasize the point you are making. I don’t want my listeners asking me for my slide presentation for review. I want them to ask for a recording.
4. Do NOT tell jokes –
I make people laugh. But it’s not because I tell jokes. I say funny things. Not because I am funny. It just comes out that way. Unless you are a natural joker, leave the comedy for a stand up routine you have been asked to give. Elsewise … be yourself.
5. Do NOT be a downer –
Bring energy to your talk. It’s hard enough for most people to just sit. They can be distracted by a text message, a tweet, an instant message, an email, a pop up on their laptop, something in their Google glasses! There ought to be so much energy and activity coming from you that the listeners would be afraid to look away. A tall order, for sure … but befitting a professional.
6. Do NOT be afraid of the Q & A –
Let the audience challenge you, put you on the spot. One of the best answers is, “Great question. I don’t know, but I will find out.” But the best answer is the one that matches the question that is asked.
Do NOT do these things and you are on your way to be a top notch cruise ship lecturer.
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