I thought my presentation was flat, then one person killed it at the end. How to ensure your presentation isn’t flat, by improving your presentation skills.

how to give a business presentation

Do some people put you off?

Have you ever had to give a business presentation and been afraid, or thought that it was flat? I have found out that it isn’t uncommon to be put off by the presence of somebody in the audience. Here’s the story of how I learnt it.

I frequently give presentations, varying from 10 minutes to over an hour, people generally consider me to be good at it (at least I get good feedback and nobody falls asleep). However, I recently gave a presentation and worried that it was completely flat and that the actions of one person at the end appeared to kill it off altogether.

Why my presentation “died”.

This particular presentation was based around a joke. Now, to be fair, it’s a bad joke, but it had three excellent business lessons in it.

On starting I allowed myself to think “uh oh, she’s in the audience” – that was my first mistake.

As I completed the presentation I allowed myself to be put off and then got to the punch-line. One member of the audience made it known that they were not amused; yes, the same person I  allowed myself to be put off by. They had sufficient gravitas to stop anybody else expressing themselves publicly.

What to do if confronted by somebody that puts you off.

Previously I’ve written an article about being put off of your stride, it contains nine tips to help when somebody puts you off. I wish I had put it all in place on that day!

The biggest two from the list are:

  1. Don’t think about them all the time. Thinking about the other person, rather than your performance almost guarantees it will damage your performance.
  2. Don’t show self deprecation. Yes, humility has it’s place in Leadership, but this is not a time to make jokes at your own expense – your nemesis may add their own ridicule and humiliation.

Have faith in yourself.

I learned two great presentation tips by giving that presentation:

  1. The audience were on my side, not hers! I chatted to a couple of people quietly afterwards. They thought the lessons were powerful and a that it was really great presentation. The did agree it had a terrible terrible punch line, but not worthy of the reaction it got. It is not uncommon for most of the audience to be on your side, if they think you are being “mistreated”.
  2. Don’t be put off. I have since repeated the same presentation five other times, every time it was really well received, both the punch line and the key points were really liked.

Don’t let yourself focus on the people you don’t like in the room, focus on the good job you know that you can do.

If you would like some other presentation tips, you will enjoy “How to give business presentations: 3 top LIES” and “How can I make my presentation worthwhile or even profitable – let alone memorable.

You will find our free guide “Improving your presentation skills” really useful, it's free and waiting for you to download right nowClick here for instant access (email address required).

Have you ever had a presentation go wrong, because you were put off by one person? What did you do to recover?

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access