5 "Fake Facts" That Kill Presentations

BY Jessica Helinski
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Don’t let fake facts ruin your presentation. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to best present, from old-​school rules to newer tips and tricks. But, not of all of should be taken to heart, writes Julie Hansen in a recent post for the Performance and Sales Training blog. She explains that “blindly followed, some of these ‘facts’ can create real damage to your credibility and even derail your entire presentation.” Below are just a couple of highlights from her list of five common “fake facts”:

It’s got to be 18 minutes.

Thanks to the success of TED talks, and the results of industry studies, many consider 18 minutes to be a goal of all presenters. But, it’s just not necessary. Hansen points out that while research shows attention spans wane after 10 minutes, there are ways around this. You can maintain your audience’s attention by breaking up your speaking into 10-​minute increments. Do this by asking questions, showing a video; anything that cuts into your speech pattern. 

Also, it’s not realistic to compare a sales presentation to the typical TED talk, due to their different scope and goals. “Ted Talks typically focus on a single idea and attempt merely to entertain or build awareness with an audience,” she explains. “Salespeople however, may be presenting complex solutions to multiple stakeholders.” The goal of presentations is usually not about increasing awareness but rather changing attitudes, ideas or beliefs. 

Always save the best for last

Most reps are told to end the presentation with a bang, but Hansen believes differently. While slow-​building presentations may have been successful in the past, they just don’t align with how people want to get their information today. By holding out for a big finish, you run the risk of:

  • Lowered attention spans later in the presentation
  • Executives possibly leaving the room
  • Attendees are on information overload
  • You run out of time

Don’t make your audience wait for the best of what you’re presenting. Win their attention early when they are most eager and receptive (and everyone’s present!).

After reading Hansen’s entire article, you’re likely to see at least one “fact” that you’ve assumed was set in stone. Hopefully, with Hansen’s rational explanations, you’ll feel comfortable tossing it out in favor of a new idea or style that will better connect you with your audiences.