Powerful Pitches: How To Adapt When Things Go Wrong During A Presentation

10 Minutes

We’ve all been there – it’s the middle of an important presentation and you can tell things are going badly. You might be dealing with a technological disaster or maybe your mind has gone blank and you don’t remember what you were going to say next. 

At this moment, it’s easy to think that you’ve failed and can’t salvage the rest of your time on the floor. However, this isn’t the case. With a few simple techniques, you’ll be able to recover and give a good presentation. 

If you’re wondering how to give a good presentation, take a look at the following tips. From how to thoroughly prepare to what kinds of body language to use, we’ll take you through how to make your presentation effective. And if you’re still looking to learn more about how to give a good presentation after reading, turn to Pareto's Powerful Pitches training course

Preparing for your presentation

Good presentations are built on strong preparation. Develop your content with your members of the audience in mind, do your research thoroughly, and ensure that you’re saying everything you want to say. If you’re using presentation software like PowerPoint, start with your content before going straight to making slides, otherwise, you may miss a crucial point you want to make. 

After clarifying your content and preparing slides, create notes to carry during your presentation to remind you of key points. However, make sure that your notes are just brief words or phrases, not full sentences. Otherwise, you might look down at them too much meaning members of the audience will become less engaged and unconvinced of your message. 

It’s also a good idea to practice your presentation at least once or twice beforehand to check how long it is and how well it flows. If you can’t do this in front of anyone, consider recording yourself to get an idea of how you’re speaking and presenting yourself, including what your body language looks like. 

If you have a fear of public speaking, you might be even more concerned about how to give a good presentation. If this is the case, thorough preparation is even more important. If you’ve gone through your notes enough times, practised your presentation in front of someone beforehand, and have checked your slides for mistakes, you’ll feel much more confident during the real thing. 

During your presentation

But how do you give a good presentation? Even if you’re fully prepared, there are some things you can do to mitigate the chance of any mistakes. If you have a fear of public speaking, you can use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or centering in order to stay calm during your presentation, preventing the chances of you rushing ahead or losing your place.

Pay attention to your body language too. Try not to stay frozen in one spot during your presentation and try to naturally move around the stage as you speak. This will make your presentation seem less formal, more conversational, and may also relax you further. Eye contact is also key, but if you find it uncomfortable, look at people’s foreheads instead of directly into their eyes. 

Ultimately, the key to how to give a good presentation is simply to stay relaxed and on topic. If you’ve prepared your slides well enough and have some brief notes to keep you focused, then you’re on your way to an effective presentation. 

When things go wrong

Even if you’ve prepared every part of the presentation, something could still go wrong when you least expect it. Whether this is your PowerPoint failing at a critical moment or dropping your notes, it’s good to be prepared for something unexpected. The proof of a good presentation? How you react when something goes wrong. 

Stay calm

Remember that members of the audience expect you to be nervous, especially if it’s an important presentation. At that moment when everything seems to be going wrong, give yourself a moment to relax. Take a deep breath and try to relax your body before carrying on. 

Adjust your body language

Body language is one of the most important elements of how to give a good presentation. How you present yourself will affect you more than you realise, so it’s important to check in with exactly how you’re carrying yourself. Roll your shoulders back and raise your chin slightly, this variation on a ‘power pose’ will naturally give you a boost of confidence resulting in a convincing and effective presentation. 

Consult your notes

Once you’re feeling more relaxed, you might try to rectify your mistake and engage with the audience again. Take a brief look at your notes to remind yourself of which part of the presentation you were up to and you’ll be able to carry on exactly where you left off. After all, when it comes down to how to give a good presentation, it’s less about your message and more about your overall confidence.

If you come to the end of your presentation and think it’s gone badly, remember: a good presentation doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, some presenters will even lose their place on purpose during a presentation to connect with members of the audience – it makes them seem more relatable. As long as you know how to react when something goes wrong, then you can still create a powerful and effective presentation.

Are you looking for more pointers on how to give a good presentation? Pareto has over 25 years of experience in professional training, empowering salespeople to gain more confidence and advance their careers. Our Powerful Pitches sales training course will give you the skills to deliver effective presentations. 

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