10 Presentation ‘Sins’: Are You Guilty?

Many of us have heard that 99% of presentations are bad and not effective. This article will outline the 10 most common reasons why so many presentations are so bad, and suggest how to avoid these common mistakes.

1. No clear message- When preparing your presentation, you must make sure you are clear on what your objective is. It may be to just inform, to advocate a point of view or you are seeking an approval. Whatever it is, make sure you are clear why you are giving the presentation. If you start with the end in mind the rest should be easy.

2. Your slides are boring- Unfortunately 99% of presentation slides are really bad and will not be able to grab the attention of the audience. Nobody likes to look at page after page of hardly visible text on the screen, which the presenter is reading like a story book. Generally, less text works better. Simple text with powerful images work best. Remember the slides are there just to help you as visual aids, do not rely on them. You are the ‘star’ who needs to ‘wow’ your audience.

3. Not enough material/content- Sometime your presentation fails due to insufficient content to make a convincing case for the audience. For example, you did not provide enough evidence to back up your argument or point of view. Another example would be a new business proposal which did not include risks and the mitigating contingencies you will put in place.

4. Too much material- Just as bad as not having enough material is having too much material covered in your presentation. Firstly, people have a very limited attention span that rarely exceed 20 minutes. Secondly, having too much material to cover will make it harder for you to highlight the key message or objective of your presentation.

5. Monotonous voice- Nobody enjoys listening to a robot. You need to modulate your voice so that there are times when you raise your voice to emphasise a point and there are times you pause and say nothing, to give your audience time to absorb what you just said. There are times you will speak quickly and times when you will speak slowly to highlight a point in your presentation.

6. Not rehearsing- The vast majority of people do not bother to practice giving their presentation thinking that they are already quite good at it. Unfortunately, they are not! And that probably includes you too. Even the late Steve Jobs spent a lot of time rehearsing his legendary presentations. Take the time to practice and make it a habit. It will make you comfortable with the material and make you far less nervous. This will create confidence that the audience will be able to spot and makes you case stronger. Alternatively, if you do not practice, you will appear less confident and you will not be as convincing.

7. Complicated language- Depending on your audience use language that is as simple as possible. The less the audience has to think about what you are trying to say the better. Avoid jargon and complex terminology unless you are speaking to a room full of experts. Use simple words and short sentences, your audience will appreciate it.

8. Not getting to the point quickly- People hate waiting. Try to get to the point of your presentation quickly. Often it is best to tell them up front what the objective of the presentation is at the start of the presentation. Also another tip is to tell them how long your presentation will take before you begin, this will put the audiences feeling of anxiety at ease. Unless you are told how long a presentation will take, your audience will be speculating and wondering when you will get to the point.

9. Poor structure- To be effective your presentation needs to be properly structured for the objective you are trying to achieve. Like any good story, it will need a start, middle and an ending. A good basic structure is to start with an introduction of the problem or issue you wish to address, and then go into the implications for the audience of the issue. Only then do you go into introducing the solution and also address any possible concerns relating to the proposed solution. Finally, you have a call to action, what you want the audience to do. This is just a basic example; the main point is that you need a logical flow in the structure of your presentation.

10. Giving out hand outs too early- A common mistake many people do is to give copies of their slides before the present. This is a guaranteed way of ensuring the audience will not listen to you because they will be busy reading your slides and they can read much faster than you can present. They will be on your fourth slide when you are still on the contents slide. Give your hand outs at the end of the presentation so that you will have their full attention.

Always remember these 10 sins of presentations and you will be on your way to becoming a better presenter who will always grab the attention of any audience.

Presentation Skills – 7 Top Tips

Here are my 7 tips for polishing your presentations and giving maximum value to your audience:

1. Involve the audience by asking them questions and for their own stories and experiences to support what you are saying. However, only ask a question if you know they will get the answer right! You are not there to test them and a series of wrong answers will take you off-track and begin to irritate.

2. Talk for about 15 minutes at most without audience participation, or you will lose their attention. People always start to perk up if they think they may be asked for a contribution!

3. Use plenty of anecdotes and human interest to engage your audience’s imagination. Human beings love stories and they will be more inspired to think about what you are saying.

4. Don’t be afraid to repeat important points several times or to allow a pause for something vital to sink in. Even the most quick-witted amongst us welcomes the opportunity to mentally catch up and really appreciate a point before you move on.

5. Use plenty of visuals, whether that be PowerPoint, props or visual imagery. Being able to see or imagine something brings it alive in a fresh and powerful way.

6. You will probably need to speak more slowly, more clearly and more loudly than you would naturally. A normal conversational pace can come across as a gabble in a presentation.

7. And most importantly of all – look as though you are enjoying yourself! Moods and emotions are catching, and if you look as though you are happy to be there, talking to them, your audience will be more responsive.

Enjoy putting these tips into practice and you will become a popular presenter!

Are Your Offers Even Getting Presented to the Seller?

If you’re trying to buy a house in Southern California, your realtor may be submitting each and every one of your offers to the listing agent but some offers will never be presented to the Seller.

The following are just 10 of several reasons why one’s offer may sometimes NOT GET PRESENTED:

1) Failure to provide the “cross-qualifying” Approval Letter from the Sellers Preferred Lender. What this means is: The Listing-Agent/Bank Representative has specifically asked that ALL prospective buyers “cross-qualify” with the seller’s preferred Lender to verify that the Loan Approval provided by Buyer’s Lender came as a result of the most thorough vetting process. (keep in mind, you’re typically not obligated to use the seller’s preferred lender in order to get acceptance, though I’m certain some will tell you that at times, it can be the difference maker)

2) Lack of LEGIBILITY of One’s offer. Sometimes, the offer documentation must be faxed to the buyer for completion and signatures, then it must be re-faxed to the buyers agent. The buyers’ agent must then take that and fax it for the 3rd time to the Seller’s Agent. Then the Seller’s Agent has to fax it to the Sellers. The sellers then fax it back to the Seller’s Agent. In many cases, the Seller’s Agent has to fax it for the 6th time when he sends it to the Bank’s Representative who reviews all offers. (When ever possible, it’s recommend that you and your realtor use electronic signatures at least for the submittal of initial offers. The method is not only faster, it’s completely legible and the Listing-Agents greatly appreciate not having to try to make heads or tails of the multi-faxed documents or poor penmanship of authors)

3) Incorrectly completed Offers or Misspelling of verbiage entered by Buyer’s Agent. These 2 mistakes often give the impression to the Listing-agent that the Agent may be New or possibly challenged in other ways. (Believe me, It matters!) Ps. YES, that is the correct way to spell VERBIAGE.;-)

4) Buyer’s Earnest money deposit may be too low. The average earnest money deposit sought by sellers in most areas is between 1% to 3% of the purchase price. (for Cash buyers, it’s almost always going to be at least 3%)

5) Buyer is requesting an Escrow timeline that’s too far into the future. Most sellers are genuinely interested in finalizing a transaction in as close to 30 days as possible. Though it can sometimes be tough to accomplish that with certain Loan types, it’s typically best to submit one’s offer with an illustration of as close to a 30 day escrow as possible. Extensions are often obtainable so long as reasonable progress is being made. (Keep in mind that in the case of Bank-Owned homes, most of the contracts aka “Bank-Addendum’s” that come back from the Seller, typically allow for up to a 45 day escrow even if buyer originally submitted an offer promoting a close of escrow of 30 days. Banks sometimes prefer to grant additional time from the get-go as a cushion because they’d rather NOT CHARGE the buyer the typically required per-diem fees when closing late without extensions. Banks know that additional fees may cause the transaction to fall apart because of a buyer’s possible inability or lack of willingness to pay those penalty fees so they try to avoid it when they can.

6) SHORT-SALE Approval is authorized at a particular price and one offers lower than the Approved Price. What’s important for Buyer’s to remember is: Typically it has taken several months and in some cases more than a year to negotiate and arrive at the Approved Short-Sale Price. It would stand to reason then that, in most cases, having just authorized the Approval on the Price after such a long time, the note-holding bank is not likely to ACCEPT an offer for less.

7) Buyer is asking too much in the way of Seller-Concessions for repairs or money for Buyer’s closing-costs. In the end, it’s all about the NET OFFER to the seller. In most cases, the Seller will opt NOT to accept THOSE offers because they perceive financially-challenged buyers {who lack the funds for closing-costs} as having a higher risk of having a minor financial need during the escrow period which could absorb or exhaust the money they set aside for down-payment or as cash-reserves. This would, of course cause the transaction to CANCEL in most cases. Regarding a requests for repairs, often the Seller is interested in finalizing the transaction in a much shorter time-period than what would be required if repairs need to be made. Consequently, you’ll find many of THOSE homes marketed at price-points low enough to allow for only Cash-Buyers or Cash-Investors who recognize the Seller has already priced the listing as per it’s current condition. (Some buyers walk in and say, “I think we’ll offer less because it needs all this work” —Attention Buyer’s… In most cases of Bank-Owned homes, the current condition of the home has already been taken into account in arriving at the list-price)

8) Buyer is Offering too much for the house. That’s right, TOO MUCH. In their desperation, often buyer’s and their representing realtors will choose to institute a strategy of “Let’s just write all of our offers at $10k, $20k or $50k over list-price” (depending on the area). This strategy will often back-fire. You see, the Seller knows that this strategy is most often used by buyers with weak financial profiles (i.e.: needing closing-costs paid) or those buyers who perceive themselves as NOT being able to compete in the open market due to the type of financing they require (i.e…: FHA or VA). As such, a seller is sometimes more inclined to ACCEPT an offer from someone who is within the range of reasonably anticipated Appraisal Value than to simply jump on the highest priced offer which will ultimately need to be reduced anyway.

9) Employing the strategy of “…Let’s start low and see what they say… they can always send us a counter-offer”. WRONG! Don’t fall for this trap. If one seeks to buy a home in some of the very competitive areas of Southern California, it’s important to know that in most cases, you’ll only get ONE-SHOT at submitting an offer. This is because the homes in good condition or with the lowest prices, or in the most desirable areas, will almost ALWAYS get multiple-offers. Sometimes as many as 30 to 40 if a listing-agent doesn’t check out their email in-box or fax machine over a weekend. In the competitive market climates, you’re almost always best to work closely with your realtor to prepare your HIGHEST & BEST offer up-front and submit THAT.