Years ago, I was working with someone who had all of the elements of a great presentation: a flawless outline; good, relevant content; a compelling, realistic call to action; active verbs; descriptive language; pauses in all the right places; excellent visual aids; and a passion for his topic. It would have been perfect, but he forgot one critical step: carefully proofread everything.
The speaker’s content, slides and handouts were focused on carbon monoxide and how dangerous it could be if leaked into a building. His call to action was a clear plea to purchase, use, and replace a carbon monoxide detector as needed to stay protected from this invisible, odorless killer. Yet all of his slides referenced CO2, which is carbon dioxide, a molecular compound that is necessary for the maintenance of life.
Instantly, his credibility was greatly diminished. Audience members looked to one another in confusion. He lost the audience’s attention and, to some degree, their respect.
Lesson learned. Always, always proof your materials. And if you’re not good at it, please ask for help from someone who is.