Today’s Question: “I made a presentation today to a new group. My boss came up afterwards and said that my slides had some errors. Is it really a big deal when you have a few errors on your presentation slides?”
The short answer is yes. Here is the longer answer as to why it is important. When you are presenting information, people want to know that what you are saying is credible and they can believe you. When you have errors in a couple of areas, it starts to lead to questions about the accuracy of the other things in your presentation as well. It also speaks to your attention to detail and whether you took the time to review it before you presented the information. If the messaging isn’t clear, then it makes it hard for people to understand what you are trying to tell them.
You are probably thinking, this is common sense stuff, right? Everyone knows that they should review the information before they present in front of a group of people. If you have consistently presented information without errors in the past, then it probably isn’t going to be a big deal. This type of thing happens to everyone at one time or another. You can even call the error out during the presentation to let people know the correct information and offer to send them an updated presentation. You never know who else will see a copy and you want it to be correct.
- Be proactive and read the material multiple times. Read it as if you are looking at it for the first time and have never seen it before. Encourage a peer to read it and provide feedback to you.
- Does the information flow properly or does it skip all over the place? Do the slides support the recommendation that you want to make?
- Does it have spelling or grammatical errors? You can use grammar and spell check, but don’t only rely on that as the only way to catch errors. It isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always catch everything.
- If you are including numbers or financials, do they add up correctly? An error with just one number can cause all your recommendations or status to be questioned.
Perception is reality and unfortunately people can make snap judgments based on these types of errors. Imagine if you are presenting to a group for the first time and this occurs. This can derail your whole presentation and end it before you really get started. They may form an opinion which causes you to lose credibility with them. Finding errors can be a challenge when you are so close to the material so having other reviewers can help. Make sure that the information is concise and supports the story that you want to tell. It should be free of errors to allow people to focus on the message that you want to share.