9 Major Presentation Mistakes

If you are in business or you have a job, you do presentations, period. If you have an online business, off-line business, retail store, wholesale firm, profit or nonprofit organization, it doesn’t matter, if you are in business, you are presenting multiple times a week.

Customer service professionals, managers, lawyers, insurance professionals, doctors, dentists, salespeople, entrepreneurs, coaches present all day long.  You either conduct internal presentations, for your coworkers, board of directors, subordinates, or you conduct external presentations for your clients, business partners, media, financial community, etc.

You can call it persuasion, influence, sales, sales presentations, educational training, workshops, the fact is, if you are in business, at some point, you are doing a presentation.  You may be using different vehicles such as face-to face meetings, phone presentations, webinars, group presentation, video conferencing, skype, or a simple conversation (that is presenting), but they are all presentations.

Every business day, you have to present your offers, ideas, point of views and the audience will either say yes or no.

Everybody is in the influence business, either we are influencing or we are being influenced, and presentations are the major vehicle we use to get our points across. What is fascinating for me to see, is that in spite of presentations being one of the most important tools someone must have to be successful personally and professionally, the majority of people (99.99%) have no formal training or education on how to conduct an effective presentation.

Let me prove it to you…

If you have an undergraduate degree and/or a master degree, I would bet you have not taken more than 2 classes on public speaking and presentation skills (unless you have a communication major).


Now, stop right now and look at your library or your Itunes and count how many books or audio books on presentation and public skills you have (I would say less than 5).

Don’t feel bad because you are not alone on this one, most people after graduating from college never read a book on presentation skills (unless they are professional presenters).  Most people take their presentation skills for granted, because they do not see themselves as a presenter (they think that only professional speakers should have presentation training), but the truth is that everybody does presentations. My intention is to really help you with your presentation skills because I know for a fact the better you present your ideas and proposals the more money and success you will have in your business.

I have come up with these 9 major presentation mistakes based on 3 major factors:

a) Research and personal development: My personal research and my quest to study the best influencers and presenters in the world, watching them in seminars, DVDS, and reading books

b) my personal experienc: I have been speaking professionally for 7 years now and personally conducted more than 3200 group presentations in the US, Mexico and Brazil (I am not counting informal meetings)

c) My coaching experience: I have personally coached thousands of people on presentation and influence skills in many different professions such as: CEOS, lawyers, commercial real estate brokers, entrepreneurs, insurance consultants, executive coaches, business consultants, lawyers, professional speakers, and salespeople from countless industries.

During this journey I have come across some challenges that I found to be repetitive regardless of the industries and the experience level of the presenters (for the most part).

Now, of course, there are more than 9 challenges, but I think if you avoid these 9 and you decide to master the skills necessary to excel in presentation and public speaking, you WILL be among the top 1-3% of your industry (if you already are in the top 1% of our industry, then you will create an entire new level for your career)!

In future videos/articles, I will explain why these challenges are common in most presentations, how they impact your income and your leadership skills, what you have to do specifically to conquer them, the benefits of mastering these challenges and the outrageous results that the best presenters achieve in business when they master the art and science of presenting and influencing.

It is very important that as you go over these 9 challenges, you minimize that voice that will tell you “I already heard that before, or I already know this stuff”. My invitation is that instead of allowing this limiting voice in your mind, invite a voice that opens you to new possibilities, a voice that will ask you “If I were to rate myself in a scale from 0 to 10, 0 being terrible and 10 being the # 1 in my industry in the world, where I am today in this area?” If you ask this question, I promise you, you will learn something with these series of articles, guaranteed!

Here is a brief introduction of the 9 major mistakes that I found to be true:

1) Poor presentation and influence psychology: This is the mental state that the presenter is before and during a presentation. While most people talk about fear of public speaking, that is just one part of it. You can be fearless about speaking and having an unconscious conflicting belief or value that at some level is preventing you from utilizing your emotional resources.  There are many factors that impact your influence and presentation mindset, such as your beliefs, values, focus, previous experiences, environment, expectations and preparation. The key is to be aware of these factors and influence them in your favor, so you show up confident, certain and inspired to present every single time.

2) Poor rapport skills during group presentations: Most people know how to build rapport when conducting one on one presentations. With group presentations, however, is more challenging because you have different people with different beliefs, perceptions, and values in the same room. A master influencer knows that in order to build up rapport with a group he or she must calibrate his audience and change his approach according to:

a) the audience’ attitude towards the presenter, the content, the presentation outcome, their beliefs and values and

b) the internal state that the audience is currently in. This is how the audience feels due to time of the day, previous events, room environment, their current focus, etc.

3) Superficial fact-finding: Most presenters “assume” too much when presenting. Because they have experienced dealing with previous clients with similar situations (problems areas), they think they have an off-the shelf solution that will serve for all their prospective clients. Even if the solution is universal, the communication should not be, especially when presenting.  Yes, there is effective ways to customize group presentations so that the group feels that your solution (offer) is tailored to their individual needs.

4) Poor sales presentation structure: Presentation structure has less to do with art, and everything to do with a system. So many people who present tell me they are better or more natural when they “show up and speak” without much preparation. They tell me they know the content inside and out and they like to “wing it”. Coincidentally, for the majority of those presenters, that is directly reflected in their paycheck as well. The best Broadway shows or the best movies do follow a structure, but you, as a spectator, do not realize (or feel) that, it just feels natural. That is what a well-thought presentation structure allows the master influencer to do, a natural and powerful presentation.

5) Lack of  emotional engagement: For a trained eye (and ear), this trend is very easy to spot. The majority of presentations lack the emotional engagement with their clients because the presentations are too logical, dry and boring. Do you want to fix them? Easy, here is how to create that connection:

a) become a master at storytelling and storyselling,

b) use pain and pleasure effectively and elegantly

c) understand your clients values and beliefs and address them

d) understand and utilize the 16 drivers of human behavior in your presentation

e) use evidence (statistics, facts) strategically. That will be a great start!

6) Poor ability to test close and get commitment: A master influencer gets commitment from the audience through out the presentation, so he can be flexible and adjust his delivery and message accordingly.  Amateurs present and try to get commitment at the end of presentation, influencers get commitment several times through out the presentation.

7) Lack of monetization or valuation: Every presentation you conduct must be monetized or valued (sometimes both) from a problem and benefit standpoint.  Every person you present to is at point A (current situation) and they want to go to a point B (their personal or professional goal). A master influencer realizes this gap (between point A and B) and uses it as a leverage point to help the client. A master influencer shows his audience both the financial, emotional and strategic pain of not changing and the financial, emotional and strategic gain for changing now.  Monetization means giving the pain/gain a dollar amount and valuation means addressing the pain/gain in a strategic and emotional frame of reference (more on this on future articles).

8. Inability to create sense of urgency on the audience: This is a big one as well. If people can, they will procrastinate to make a decision. There are two sides of “sense of urgency”. There is the internal sense of urgency (the presenter’s state) and the external sense of urgency, what we do, tell and show our client that compels him or her to act.  There is so much to cover in this step, but the important thing to know is:

a) if you do not have urgency to help your clients to change, they will not have urgency to change as well and

b) creating sense of urgency has nothing to do with installing fear in the clients minds, and has everything thing to do with elegantly exposing the truth to your clients. The key here is  “how” to do it without breaking rapport. (you will learn on the following articles)

9) Poor call to action (CTA): Also known as the “close”, your call to action is how you end your presentation. A great call to action is the one that gets results. The primary mistake presenters commit is to think that they have to create a “magical” CTA. The fact is the CTA (or close) starts way before you start your presentation; a great close starts in your head and heart first, where every single cell in your body is convinced about your offer. Second, the close is strategically laid out through out your presentation, where everything you do, say or show leads to a logical conclusion (CTA). If you have a poor presentation and a great close, most likely you will not be very successful (that is what old sales training used to teach: present, talk and close strong). Influencers believe that the close (CTA) is a logical step in the presentation process.

My goal when writing this article was to educate you in the importance of you mastering presentation and public speaking skills and to expose you to the major problem areas I found in this area. In future videos/articles, I will have the opportunity to explore these challenges in greater detail and give you concrete solutions on how to overcome them, so you can take your life and your business to the next level.

Speak soon. (seriously, you should!)

Roberto Monaco

1 Comment

  1. Antonia on June 14, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Each of your 9 mistakes are spot-on, especially lacking emotional engagement – this is a vital skill for a presenter! Great article, thanks!

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