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Charlotte Workshop

Thanks for coming to our workshop and here are a few downloads to help you with your next presentation!



Here is some information to help with your next presentation

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Instructors Make


Advice for new teachers & speakers in the service industry


1.        Polling the audience over and over

One of the signs of an inexperienced speaker is frequently asking the audience questions such as; How many of you know how a capacitor works? How many of you work on Carrier equipment? There is no end to the potential number of polling questions and they are most often pointless. They serve no function to the teaching or learning process and are usually used to give an inexperienced presenter time to think. Too many of these questions tire the audience and it ruins the professionalism of the presentation. Whenever I hear a presenter continually polling the audience I know the speaker is inexperienced as a presenter but when used correctly and occasionally it can be a useful tool.


2.        Don’t talk to the Flip Chart or Dry Erase Board

Flip Chart, Whiteboard, Projection Screen or Whatever, it makes no difference. Always speak facing the audience while landing eye contact. If you need to point something out on the screen or whiteboard do it with a pointer. But, when speaking, turn your head towards the audience vary the pitch of your voice. Don’t turn away from the audience for any time more than is absolutely necessary. Nobody wants to stare at your back.


3.        No War Stories or Big Fish Stories

Unfortunately, it is common practice for many presenters to tell stories about a job they once went on. Often times these stories are told in a way that they are used to tell the audience how great the teacher was or how he saved the day when nobody else could. Don’t do it. Another form the war stories take is to tell the audience how stupid someone else was or is. This technique is highly unprofessional and will only cause the audience to think “what will he/she say about me in the future if I do something stupid in this class?”


There is no problem telling stories to serve as an example provided they meet two conditions.


1) The example story or illustration does not make you the presenter look like the only hero nor does it make someone else look bad or incompetent. It is fine to make fun of yourself and explain your mistakes but make it have a point that reinforces something that will benefit the student. That shows the audience that you recognize you are only human, you have been there, and that we have all made mistakes. Be sure not to make fun of yourself too much or the class will wonder why you are teaching a class in the first place.


4.        Don’t try to impress the audience

Remember, no war stories about how good you are, no making yourself look good by beating up others or making fun of someone else. Another common mistake is telling the audience how I am or was “The Big Boss” and fired so and so or used my position and intimidation to get results. Now they’ll expect you to be a classroom bully and won’t ask any questions when. If you want to impress your audience, simply do the following three things well.


1)          Have a highly organized presentation. Know where you are going, how you are going to get there and all the little steps in between. Be prepared with everything you will use and have it all in order.


2)          Have a great deal of content and know it very well. If there is only one thing you do well this is it! Even if your presentation skills are not exactly up to par your audience will appreciate that you taught them something they did not know. Having good solid content and useful information that your audience does not already know is a top priority. When you own the material it will greatly reduce the stress of getting in front of an audience.


3)           Impress your audience by learning the basics of making a good presentation. Once you have a well- organized presentation with solid content and good visuals, you’ll need to be able to present the material in a professional manner. No cursing whatsoever! Period. It will cheapen you in the eyes of the audience.


You don’t have to tell war stories, deprecate others or talk about yourself. In fact, those things will destroy all the work you did in gathering content, organizing it and working on your presentation. Just these few things alone will make your presentations much more effective!


5.        Stay with your content

No matter what happens, no matter what questions you are asked do not allow anyone to take the class in a different direction from your planned presentation. If a comment or question from the audience attempts to lead you astray simply deflect the question and say that is a topic to be covered by another speaker or at another time. Then go right back to your presentation without giving it another thought or seek more questions. It is also helpful to ask that person to ask you during a break or at lunch time so you can give that question your undivided time.


Never let an audience member direct the class where you are not prepared to go. It can ruin an excellent presentation in a few short minutes.


6.        Use visual aids

Visual aids that illustrate your content or emphasize a point are nearly essential to an effective technical presentation. They will make it much easier for your audience to follow your topic and understand what you want them to learn. A common mistake is to use a visual aid or a slide that cannot be read by the audience because it is too small or is a copy of something that was not easy to see before you made it a visual aid.


Any time you have something to pass around the room it will instantly engage the audience and taking a moment to chat as it or they are passed around the room will be greatly appreciated.


7.        Don’t read to the audience

One of the worst things presenters do is read to the audience from a book or instructor guide. If they wanted to read they could stay home and do it themselves. It is fine to read a quote that fits the presentation and then comment on it but you should know the material well enough to make it seem second nature and conversational.

Also, don’t read from your visual aids word for word unless you want to put the students to sleep! The visual aids may contain a list of bulleted items that you will talk about and that’s absolutely fine. In fact, it is an effective way to keep the outline in front of you and the audience. You and the audience will know where you are going with the presentation and they want to have an idea of what to expect.


8.        Don’t fake it

One of the most powerful phrases in a speaker’s vocabulary is “I don’t know but I can find out”. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something. You will gain a great deal of credibility with your audience if you admit that you do not have the answer. Offer to find the answer and get back to the person that asked the question.

With that said, it is essential that you know the material so well that admitting you don’t know something about your topic is rare.

Also, you can’t fake sincerity for long. So, if you really don’t want to be there the students will be able to tell regardless of your experience. The majority of communication is non-verbal so they will be able to read your body language.

Just relax, enjoy the topic and the privilege of teaching and you’ll be a big hit.

9.        Failing to check the room and equipment

We have all been in an audience where the speaker begins by having to check the microphone, get it adjusted, get it turned on, find his notes, shuffle his notes and organize them or locate an electrical outlet for the projector.


Arrive early and take care of these tasks as well as others before you are to speak. Avoid putting the tables and chairs in a schoolroom setup which is in straight rows. It will put them to sleep. Instead put the tables and chairs in a U shape or a Chevron set up. This will allow you to interact and be much more engaging.


If you do not use power point often or have not tested the presentation by doing a test run be sure to do it at least 24 hours before the class. You’ll be glad you did.


10.  Starting with an inappropriate joke

For some reason many speakers think it is a good idea to open a presentation with a joke. Most often the joke is inappropriate or not even that funny. If you have to explain it, stop right there, and move on to the presentation.

The use of humor is a very effective method of keeping the audience’s attention but there are no requirements that the speaker tell a joke as an opener. One effective way of making sure that a joke works is to make sure that it supports a point, concept or some content in your presentation. That way even if the joke fails it still illustrates something you wanted to share with the audience. If it does fail say something like “And that joke is an example of why I am not a stand up comedian” and move on quickly.

While there are many more common mistakes presenters make if an instructor simply gets these ten simple but effective mistakes under control he or she will be much more effective. I guarantee it.