What Presentation Errors Really Say
This brief video says it all: it doesn’t matter how eloquent or captivating the given presentation is — errors and typos will overpower the rest of the content as that’s all anyone will see.
That one little “they’re is” will overshadow your entire slide like a dark and dreary rain cloud. Hemingway himself couldn’t make you overlook it if he were personally reading his own words to you. Even with his dapper charm.
It makes you look bad.
An error in a presentation is downright embarrassing. There is no excuse around it. It comes off as careless and idiotic — lazy at best. If you couldn’t be brought to look over something that you’re presenting, you really don’t appear to care about what you’re talking about. Or that you have the capacity to spell correctly. Harsh as it sounds, it’s that simple. The best salesman in the world can’t counter that.
Everything else fades away.
When that error is spotted, you can kiss everyone’s attention to whatever else you’re saying goodbye. You’ve officially lost them. They’re gone. The error takes the spotlight and your point gets brushed under the rug. Again, this may seem insensitive, but it’s the only thing people will see. You may as well put yourself on mute.
You lose all credibility.
Is it going too far to say you lose ALL credibility? No. Because you do. If someone can’t make the effort of looking over their written presentation, why would they ever make an effort in doing business with you? If they can’t spell or spot a typo, how would they run your numbers and make you money? Whether those capacities exist or not is irrelevant. That impression ruins your chances.
So what do you do about it?
Well, for starters, look over your writing. If you don’t feel confident enough in your abilities to spot mistakes, there are editors out there that would be more than happy to help you (wink, wink). Some can even punch up your content.
Keeping verbiage in presentations to a minimum is also a good rule of thumb to follow. No one wants to read paragraphs on a slide. Especially if you’re reading it out verbatim anyway. If you want someone to read your writing, you’d get more of a response if you just handed them a print-out. If you keep your presentation slides brief, with only key points highlighted, you increase the likelihood of the audience’s attention, as well as their retention of information.
But what if somehow a typo makes its way to the final presentation and you only notice it in the midst of presenting? Call it out. It could even be grounds to make a joke and lighten the mood, which can help win over the room if done properly: “Oops, that should say so and so. My mistake. Couldn’t have you thinking I didn’t know the difference.”