In our last BLOG, we asked you to vote for the Three Worst Mistakes presenters make when creating their PowerPoint slides. In this BLOG, we want to present the results and give you some tips to help you eliminate bad habits.
Here is what you voted as the top three mistakes that result in bad slides:
Worst Mistake #1 – Too much text on one slide Worst Mistake #2 – Graphs or charts are too small to read or even see Worst Mistake #3 – Font is too small and can’t be seen by the audience
28% of you chose “too much text on one slide” as the #1 worst mistake. And the next two are about slides that no one can see or read. How much more proof do you need? You know these are serious mistakes. You know you don’t like them as a listener. You know they irritate your listeners. But as presenters, you continue to include these hideous slides in your presentations. Why?!
STOP rationalizing that you must include all this information in your slides. If you have to provide all that detail, put it in a handout where it belongs. If your boss says you must create your report/handout in PowerPoint, then make two slide decks. One is the message with all the detail – you hand that out to your audience as their notes. The second is a helpful presentation slide deck…one that supports your message – but isn’t the message! Remember - audiences understand and remember 4x more when a presenter uses clear, well-designed visuals at the right time.
For tips on designing effective visuals, click here.
In our previous BLOG, you voted the following three presenter habits as the three worst mistakes presenters make:
Worst Habit #1 - Reads constantly from slides or notes Worst Habit #2 - Uses too many filler words i.e. um, er, ah, okay, like, you know, etc. Worst Habit #3 - Goes off topic or rambles
Preparation and rehearsal are key to eliminating all of these bad habits. In addition, here are some quick tips to help you:
#1 Reads constantly from slides or notes
Use notes – don’t rely on your slides to guide you.
Use key words only on your notes - no full sentences.
Practice your presentation with your notes – find out what key words prompt you to say what you want to say, when you want to say it.
#2 Uses too many filler words (i.e. um, er, okay, like, you know, etc.)
Write out two paragraphs of your presentation in full sentences – the exact words you want to say. Pick up the paper and read out loud what you wrote, word for word, two times…you don’t have any filler words on the paper. Put the paper out of sight and say what you wrote – you remember it without the filler words.
Talk a little faster. For some people that eliminates the time to use filler words.
Practice in front of a colleague. Ask them to snap their fingers every time you say the filler word you want to eliminate. When you present, write the filler word on your notes…you will hear that “snap” and it will remind you not to use the word.
#3 Goes off topic or rambles
Use notes (key words only) to keep you on track.
Practice with your notes – adjust them if they allow you to ramble.
Only provide what your listeners need - not everything you know on the topic.
In our last BLOG, we asked you to vote for the Top Three Worst behaviors of poor presenters. The votes are in! Based on the poll results, here is what we can conclude…
Top Three Worst Behaviors of Poor Presenters:
Worst Behavior #1 - Reads constantly from slides or notes Worst Behavior #2 - Uses too many filler words i.e. um, er, ah, okay, like, you know etc. Worst Behavior #3 - Goes off topic or rambles
This week, we’d like you to vote in our online poll and tell us what you think are the three worst mistakes that presenters make when creating their PowerPoint slides. We can all agree that Microsoft PowerPoint has revolutionized the way professionals deliver presentations. When you use PowerPoint properly, you wow your audiences and leave them with a lasting impression of your knowledge and professionalism. Abuse it and you lose it! Poorly designed PowerPoint annoys your audience and can damage your credibility as a good presenter.
Have you sat through any bad presentations recently? From the thousands of participants that give us feedback in our Presentation Skills workshops, we know that you have. If we asked you what the presenter did that made the presentation so bad, you would easily come up with a list …maybe you’ve listened to the mumbling presenter, or listened to the presenter who reads slides to you. When presenters display these and other bad habits, they leave their audience frustrated and confused rather than excited and informed.
How can you HELP? IWCC is on a mission to find out what YOU think are the top three most frustrating behaviors that make presentations unbearable. We have chosen the top ten bad habits that our participants complain about regularly when we ask what frustrates them as listeners. We would like you to complete a quick poll to choose the three you find most frustrating.
We will share the results of the poll with you in our next BLOG. And, as a logical next step … we will ask you to complete a second poll about your frustrations with PowerPoint slides - that ought to be interesting too!
Last week, our BLOG talked about effective “out-of-office replies” for your e-mail. One of our readers suggested we talk about voice mail greetings too. We thought that was a splendid idea; so here we go…
Think about those stale, static, useless voice mail greetings that sound like they are left by an inanimate object. They are everywhere and they sound like this:
“I can’t come to the phone right now, leave me a message at the beep.”
Wow, what a great personal/business image that projects! I can hardly wait to talk to this person! Voice mail greetings should help you and your callers get work done and build relationships. Your voice mail message is an extension of you. You all know what you like to hear as a caller so give that to your callers!
Here’s an acronym to help you make your voice mail greeting stand out from the rest, here is how to have the BEST.
B e Brief E stablish who you are S tay positive, personal and polite T ell them what they should do now
Be Brief If someone’s voice mail greeting is too long, what do you do? Right…get very annoyed or hang up. Don’t annoy your callers with long-winded messages that explain your life history and ambitions. If you keep having to re-do your message to get it in before the “out-of-time” beep, your message is too long. Shorten it to the necessary details.
Who have they reached? Are you in or out?
When will you return my call? HELP me!
Establish Who You Are Ever wonder if you are leaving a message on the right phone? Telling callers you are not in does not let them know they have reached you. Here are two suggestions for opening lines:
“Hello, you have reached IWCC Training and the voice mail box for Tim Duffy.” “Welcome to IWCC Training. You have reached Tim Duffy’s voice mail.”
If you have a particular job responsibility that people need to know in order to leave you an appropriate message, then tell them that too…
“Thank you for calling the accounting department at IWCC Training. You have reached the voice mail box of Sally Payable.”
Stay Positive, Personal and Polite Some voice mail greetings make you feel depressed! Think of your voice mail greeting as an opportunity - never miss this opportunity to build relationships. Be positive about how people can reach you. Make it sound like you are glad they called you. With all the technology that we use to communicate today, remember to add some Personal Touch. And…your mother was right…be polite. A please and a thank you go a long way to establishing you as a human being. Here are two examples…
“Welcome from IWCC Training and Tim Duffy. Sorry I can’t take your call right now, but please leave me a message and I’ll look forward to getting back to you before the end of the day.”
“Thank you for calling. You’ve reached Tim Duffy, CEO of IWCC Training. I am in a meeting for most of the morning, but will be happy to return your call this afternoon. Please let me know what you are calling about and where I can reach you later today.”
To build relationships even more, try adding a pleasant personal goodbye…Thanks for calling…Have a great day or Enjoy your weekend.
And a final tip on tone…The words alone cannot convey the image. If you want callers to find you positive, inviting and personal, you have to sound it! Make sure your tone supports your message. Try smiling while you record your greeting and always play it back to hear how you sound.
Tell them what they should do now Now what? The person you need isn’t there and it’s urgent! Wouldn’t the world be an easier place if voice mail greetings told you what you really need to know? Let your callers know what next course of action they have if you are unavailable. If people get your voice mail, they immediately wonder:
Are you in today? Will you return my call?
How long will you be gone? Can I reach you somewhere else?
Can someone else help me? What do you want me to do now?
So, tell them! Here are three examples…
“Hello from Ima NotHere and IWCC Training. This voice mail message is for the week of September 26. I will be in the office on Monday, out of the office Tuesday through Thursday and back in the office on Friday. If you need immediate assistance, please leave a message on my cell phone at: (905)123-4567 and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.”
“Hello from Illa BeGone and IWCC Training. I will be out of the office for the week of September 26, returning on Monday, October 3. If you need assistance before I return, please call Will HelpYou at: 905-222-2222 and he will be happy to help you out. Thank you for calling and enjoy your week!”
“Thank you for calling Ima SomewhereElse at IWCC Training’s Accounting Department. Today is Thursday, September 29 and I will be out of the office all day and unable to return your call. If you are calling with your invoice number for payment, please do not leave a message. Please call Ally Assistant at: 905-111-1111 for immediate processing of your invoice. Ally will be happy to help you out. Have a great day!”
Call yourself right now and listen to your voice mail. Is it the BEST it can be? If not record a new one NOW!
As business professionals, we see dozens of automatic “out-of-office” replies fly through our inbox each week. Do you cringe when you see that out-of-office reply bounce back from an e-mail you just sent? You likely start whining: “Oh no, I need it now!” And, an out-of-office reply usually means you won’t be getting the response you need anytime soon.
What’s worse than that? The out-of-office reply may be poorly written and lack any personal touch at all. Poorly written replies can leave you asking questions such as: “When will they return to the office?” “Can I contact someone else in the meantime?” “Will they be accessing their e-mail at all?”
How can you prevent these annoyances from happening to your clients and colleagues when you are out of the office? Try using these helpful templates to inspire you:
If you are going on vacation with no access to e-mail, try something like:
Thank you for your e-mail. I will be on vacation with no access to e-mail from Monday, September 19 to Friday, September 23. I will be happy to reply to your e-mail when I return on Monday, September 26.
If you require immediate assistance, please contact Betty Coworker at (555) 555–1234 or email@example.com.
Bill Vacationer Sales Manager
Out for the day at a meeting? Try something like:
Thank you for your e-mail. I will out of the office at an all day meeting on Thursday, September 22. I will be happy to reply to your e-mail when I return on Monday, September 23.
Jane Meeting Finance Manager
Out of town with smart phone access only? Try something like:
Thank you for your e-mail. I will be out of the country on business from Monday, September 19 to Friday, September 23. I will only have blackberry access to e-mail and will be checking my e-mail periodically. I will be happy to reply to your e-mail as quickly as I can.
If you require immediate assistance, please contact my assistant John Assistant at (555) 555–1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Traveller President & CEO
Your company uses an out-of-office template you say…
Suggest to the decision makers in your company that your out-of-office reply needs tweaking. Show them how the reply confuses readers and leaves them asking more questions than it answers. Remind them that poor out-of-office replies can jeopardize sales, projects, partnerships and business relationships.
Try using the templates above the next time you set up your office reply. Your clients and colleagues will thank you!
Imagine A World With Clear Communications IWCC Training offers a full curriculum of writing, presenting and meeting skills workshops for business, technical and scientific professionals. Our unique and powerful framework enables business leaders and their teams to gain control and consistency in their communications. By empowering your employees with the skills to communicate clearly, you will achieve better results and support your business strategies.
IWCC Specializes In Presentation Skills Training, Public Speaking, Business Presentations, Presenting to Executives, Writing Skills Training, Writing Business Reports, Writing Procedures, Writing Techniques, Business Writing Training, E-mail Techniques, E-mail Writing Tips