6 Ways to Come Back from Presentation Fumbles


Presentations rarely ever go just as planned. That’s the nature of the discipline. There are lots of things that can go wrong—technology could falter, or you may flub a few lines. Whatever fumble you may make, you can always come back from it. Even the most seasoned presenters make mistakes. The most important thing is not to panic. You can easily recover with these tips.

Reading the Slides

Most any presenter knows that he/she shouldn’t just read the slides. The slides should support what you have to say. If you find yourself reading the slides, take a deep breath and re-center yourself. Check your notes and keep moving forward.

It’s easy to get caught up in following along with the presentation. But how engaging is that for everyone else? After all, they can read it themselves. Proactively, you may choose to design the presentation to avoid this by only using key points or quick phrases. That way, you can explain and delve further into the topic to interest your audience.

Losing Track of Time

If you’ve only got a certain time window, you have to keep yourself on track. If you have half an hour, and you’ve only gotten to slide four at 20 minutes in, you’re going to need to rein in your anecdotes and move it along to include time for questions as well.

Digressions are a huge culprit of running out of time. While these may be important topics, if it’s not the objective of your presentation, you should probably skip it. If you only have 10 minutes left, don’t get nervous and start talking fast. Remain calm and focused, and hit the highlights. Providing a PDF or printed version of your deck to the audience is a great way to make sure they have all the information in case you have to skip anything when you present.

To keep this from happening in the future, have a timer within eyeshot. You should also practice with a timer. If you are too long by the clock, then you can cut some things out before the presentation.

Accept the Mistake

Should you make a mistake in the presentation from quoting a wrong stat to forgetting a page, just own it. Tell the world you are human, and you make mistakes. When you accept the mistake in front of your audience, you’ll come off as genuine and honest. This means you shouldn’t blame somebody else or make excuses. This would be an excellent moment to not take yourself too seriously and move on.

Technology Woes

If tech equipment lets you down during a presentation, it doesn’t mean the show can’t go on without it. Even if you’ve prepped and checked every connection, technology can sometimes let you down. If in the moment, the screen goes blank or your microphone goes out, be ready to keep going. It’s not an ideal situation, but the alternative is to stand there frozen. After all your slides are supposed to be your support, not contain everything you want to say.

Not Speaking Your Audience’s Language

Is your presentation filled with technical jargon or acronyms? As soon as you start talking about these things, can you see your audience losing interest? Your presentation should not need a legend key to decipher. Even if your audience is a specific industry that doesn’t mean they all understand everything. If you start to see eyes rolling of confusion, go back and explain an acronym or phrase to get people tuned back in.

Blocking Interaction

So, many think you should hold questions until the end, but that’s not always the best plan. If you begin to see hands raised or people that are on the brink of commenting—let them. The more interactive your presentation is the better your engagement. You do have to strike a balance between interaction and getting out all your planned information. But stopping any interaction until the end will leave too many quiet.

Whether you present regularly or once in a while, it’s normal to make mistakes. But it’s all about how you recover from them that matters. Besides the errors during the presentation, one of the biggest mistakes presenters make is using a dated, unattractive presentation that doesn’t connect with your audience. That’s why it’s great to leave the presentations up to the experts.

At KO/AD, we’re professional presentation designers, which means we can do much more than simple PowerPoints. We offer design and content creation for any type of presentation. Having a slick deck that delivers your message is worth it—it could make all the difference. You can learn more about what we do and how we can help by getting in touch.

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