Why I Can’t Fix Your Presentation the Day Before

Occasionally, I get phone calls from frantic people saying, “I have a presentation tomorrow, HELP!” I’ve even gotten a few, “My team has this huge bid presentation tomorrow, and we’re not ready.” As much as I’d like to help, I’m limited to what I can do the day before and you’d be amazed how often these people also have no time for me to coach them today anyway. Somehow, I’m supposed to magically update their PowerPoint and, poof, they’ll be prepared and a better presenter because of it. You know it doesn’t work that way.

Why I Can’t Fix Your Presentation the Day Before

  • The Presentation Isn’t a Priority – I get that people panic and sometimes just running your presentation by someone gives you the reassurance and confidence you need to rock your presentation. However, most of these frantic calls come from people that procrastinated way too much and still don’t have time to work with me.
  • web_offer_banner_3_contentmarketingPresentations Can’t Be Outsourced – I can not magically make your presentation better in 30 minutes or less. Even if I updated the design of the PowerPoint, the actual speaking portion of your presentation [aka the important part] will still be horrible. [Remember last month when I wrote 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Write Presentations for My Clients. Same thing applies here too.]
  • Your Problem is Still a Lack Time – It is tough to accelerate the presentation preparation process in less than 24 hours. It is doable if the client gives me the time to do an intensive training. However, you don’t want to script your presentation (and you don’t have time to memorize a script anyway), but part of practicing and rehearsing is to refine your wording each time. You need to give your brain time to process your selection of words in the background while you do other things. As I tell my clients that prepare over a few weeks, your final presentation is just a different kind of awesome than your practice because each time you give your presentation, it will be slightly different and that is a good thing.
  • Lack of Time = Lots of Bullet Points – Generally, when a presenter doesn’t have time to practice the presentation, they put everything on the slide and then read the slides to the audience. This scenario creates numerous problems including your back being to the audience, they can read faster than you can talk, you’re boring, people hate bullet points in presentations, you’re annoying them, and you appear to not know what you’re talking about because you have to read everything. So much for being perceived as the expert when you present.
  • Presentation Delivery Problems Can’t Be Corrected in a Day – Most public speakers can’t fix problems with overactive hand gestures, swaying, pacing, lack of eye contact, and other presentation delivery problems overnight. The difference between a bad presentation and a good presentation is practice because the speaker is more comfortable with the information and more confident in his/her presentation skills.
  • Audience Sees a Dress Rehearsal – Without time to properly prepare and practice, your audience sees the dress rehearsal instead of the polished presentation. I don’t think that is fair to the audience because they’ve given up a lot to see your presentation.
  • Not Audience-Centric – Presentations are about what is in it for the audience, not what benefits the presenter. When a presenter rushes the presentation preparation, this focus shifts to the presenter. Your first step in preparing a presentation is setting your goals, which means what do you want the audience to learn or take away.

I get that presentation opportunities pop up because at the last minute the scheduled presenter gets sick or misses a flight, so you have a great opportunity, or you only have a few days to prepare for a bid presentation (fairly common in construction by the way).

You need to seize the day and prepare properly, but to do so, you need to either use a presentation that you’re familiar with enough to dust off and give OR you need to block off the day for an intense strategy and coaching session because you can’t pawn off your presentation preparation without it affecting your presentation.

Additional Resources

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.

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