4 Common Challenges With Presentations And How To Manage Them

Giving a presentation is hard enough even at the best of times, let alone when something goes wrong.  Most of us in the corporate world have been privy to at least one train wreck of a presentation, most likely cringing out of sympathy for the speaker.

With that being said, there are some common issues that presenters face, which with a bit of planning can be managed.

1.  Audience Questions

Whether it be a sales, internal or other small forum format, gone are the days of waiting till the end of the presentation to answer questions.  Conversational presenting is key to effective communication, however, this can be challenging for a number of reasons.  The biggest challenge are scenarios where you are required to jump between concepts that you have covered previously.  The linear structure of Powerpoint makes this extremely cumbersome as you are forced to backtrack through slides to find the relevant one.  The solution to this is the use of Prezi.  Prezi utilises a 2.5 dimensional canvas that without going into the details, allows you to logically and quickly jump between concepts.  For sales presentations and smaller audiences in particular, this is extremely powerful.

2.  Complex Concepts - Limited Audience Knowledge

By definition, most presentations are designed to educate in some capacity.  Presentations that try to articulate complex or difficult concepts are generally more difficult to deliver.  To address this, arm yourself with analogies. Analogies draw a parallel between complex concepts and familiar, simple concepts.  As Albert Einstein once said "if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." As such, make sure you incorporate these as much as necessary. In addition, whatever you do, DON'T under any circumstances use text to try and do this.  Humans can't read and listen at the same time.  Furthermore, if your concept is hard to explain, it will be even harder to learn via reading in a finite time-span while someone is talking over a microphone.  Alternatively, use compelling visuals that convey your concept as simply possible.

3.  Audience Disinterest          

One unfortunate aspect of presenting is that in many instances (think internal communications) many of the audience members are there under some degree of duress.  As such, lead with the reason why your presentation is relevant to them, and more importantly, what they have to gain from listening to you.

4.  Lack Of Confidence

Some of us are naturals, some of us are hopeless and most lie somewhere in-between. Wherever you sit on this continuum you can always improve.  If however, the nerves are getting to you there are a few things you can do to calm the nerves (that don't involve drinking.)  Firstly, familiarise yourself with the content of your presentation in greater depth.  The source of anxiety about presenting often stems from a fear of embarrassment or rejection.  The more you understand your content, the less you will stress.  In addition to this, if there are high stakes outcomes associated with your presentation, dress for the occasion.  A new outfit will not only give you confidence, but also convey authority to the audience.  Don't be shy about adding something distinctive to your ensemble. Lastly and arguably most importantly, if you aren't a seasoned presenter, make sure the slides you are using are immaculate.  65% of your audience are visual learners and if your slides look amateur, their perception of you will be the same.