3 “Death by PowerPoint” Mistakes to Avoid

3 “Death by PowerPoint” Mistakes to Avoid


When you have an opportunity to make a presentation, especially to senior decision makers or an external audience, it’s your best chance to shine and boost your professional brand. Unfortunately it is also a surefire way to unknowingly kill any chance you have of landing an ideal client or getting promoted to the top.

Working with senior executives at large corporations I often notice that they undermine their presentations without even realizing it. People are too polite to inform them that their PowerPoint presentations are torture to sit through, but everyone dreads them. Potential clients who suffer through your PowerPoint are not likely to sign a contract with you, and no company wants to be represented by someone who puts audiences to sleep.

Let me explain the three biggest “death by PowerPoint” mistakes that I observe and give you advice about how to avoid them and make your presentations more engaging and persuasive.

1) Lack of Preparation

You are busy and I totally get that. But if you don’t take the time to prepare your PowerPoint presentation you will wind up making other high-level execs feel as if you have wasted and disrespected their own precious time. Put in the hours to create an outstanding presentation and then practice a minimum of 10 times. The results will justify the investment.

2) Relying Too Much on Words

To make an effective presentation you have to use more than just words. Less than 10% of the emotionally engaging information we convey is transferred through our choice of words. The rest is picked up through your eye contact and body language, tone of voice, level of enthusiasm, and other nonverbal ways of communicating. Lack of over-reliance on text is the real strength of the PowerPoint tool, so use it to your advantage with engaging visual images and fewer bullet points.

3) Making PowerPoint More Powerful than You

Don’t defer to PowerPoint so much that you become the sideshow and just another PowerPoint prop. Tailor your talk so that you and your own ideas are what engages and use PowerPoint as an instructional or inspirational aid – not the main reason they should listen to you. Learn how to connect on all different verbal and nonverbal levels to capture the imagination of your audience, keep them focused on you, and ensure dynamic interactive engagement.

Now go out there and knock ‘em dead with a fantastic presentation. Please let me know how it goes, too, because I am always interested in your success and with insights I can share with others who can benefit from your realizations.


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Do you want to use this blog article? You may, as long as you include this complete bio with it: Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System. 1-800-267-3245 | www.illustraconsulting.com Copyright © 2014, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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