There are several ways to succeed in a presentation and mostly it’s down to how you make your audience feel. Did you make an impact? and, Did you add value? Sometimes you can prepare everything perfectly but really let yourself down with bad grammar and wording choice that detracts from the overall credibility of your work and even in some circumstances irritate your audience. Here are some tips from The Elements of Style by Strunk and White which are still relevant to all presentations today.
1. Don’t use overly long words when you can use short and familiar ones
There is nothing worse than hearing a presentation from a person trying to sound overly clever by using long and complicated words. The point of your presentation is not about you, it’s about clearly conveying information to your audience in the most user-friendly way. Anything else detracts from the meaning of your content.
2. Avoid euphemisms
You’re not kidding anyone and your audience will not appreciate hearing about the “profit improvement plan” which was the cause of the job losses.
3. Use metaphors sparingly – they are better on paper
Metaphors can often get lost in translation and can take the audience away from the point of your content. It might sound clever in your head but it would not be fun to confuse the room and try to recover audience engagement, in the middle of your presentation.
4. Don’t invent new words
Whilst it may seem obvious to not make up words, many people don’t actually realize that the words they use are fake. For example, the overused “prioritize” is an invented word; made by converting a noun, “priority,” into a verb by adding “ize”—a practice that the legendary New York Times columnist William Safire called “verbification of nouns.” Be careful to not fall into this trap.
5. Avoid clichés
They are known to irritate audiences and they can make you seem too informal in your presentation. Try to avoid saying any of these to keep your audience on side.
For more information and tips on what words to avoid in your presentation, click here.