5 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Presentation

Have a Clear Presentation Point … Or there’ll be resistance.


There’s a saying you may have heard: –

‘The meaning of your message is the response it elicits’

However, what makes the meaning of the message is – not the words (message) – rather the framing of those words (message) and these come from the contextual frame of that message.

The saying should read: –

‘The frame around your message determines the meaning of the response it elicits’

Here are 5 different frames that can cloud the points you’re trying to make:

  1. CONTENTION– If there’s contention, a one-sided argument or opinion without clarification that surrounds your message – Make it balanced.
  2. MISREPRESENTATION – Vague reason for attending – You’re not addressing the reason why people have attended, they’re invited to attend an in-house presentation on the latest products to market only to hear a pitch on poor company performance.
  3. CONFUSION – It there are too many points – (keep to one main point, let any other points you want to make, support the main point) too many points cloud the original point – this is about sequential framing – i.e. the frame keeps changing throughout the presentation.
  4. DISINGENUOUS – Not telling the whole truth, hiding and keeping something back, having an ulterior motive. This frame can also be seen to be incongruent. “We’re not going to hide anything from you, this is a transparent presentation where we reveal everything! – Honestly”
  5. INCONGRUENT – Saying one thing, meaning (doing) another. ‘This is not a technical presentation’ when it is.

How to frame your presentation.

Think about your target audience.

What’s your message?

Does how you begin your presentation support or detract from that message? If it doesn’t, what’s a way of framing it so that it does?

Context 1

Target Audience – Senior execs at a Petro Chemical Refinery / consortium

Context – Next generation business plan.

Message – The world still needs production and refinement of oil, but it wants a greener more sustainable alternative to current methods – what can we do?

Framing – We’re a capable organisation rich in technical and scientific methods that have helped drive global economies into prosperity. How can we use our experience to drive the world to a sustainable future where we give our children’s children the world we originally envisioned?

Notice, that the above framing statement does not provide a solution rather it poses a question but keeps the question within the confines of the message – ‘what can we do?’


Context 2

Target Audience – HR Business Partners & Finance (non-industry specific)

Context – Budget requirements for next quarters training spend per department

Message – Decrease in available spend across certain departments – look for personal solutions where possible. Company will support time off case by case. Real message – we can’t really help you.

Framing – Global downturn in company sales due to change in market conditions has necessitated a shift of finance to other departments to keep the company at the head of the market. Not enough reserves to spend on training. – Real message – It’s not our fault, we all need to pull together and cut where we can.

Notice in this example, we stepped behind the curtain to look at the message of the message. This is called the meta-message and is usually what we respond to and not the message itself (We can’t really help you).


Context 3

Target Audience – Kids at home, constant messy room

Context – During the week, mum and dad both work, busy, not much time to keep the house tidy, dishes remain on the bench overnight and are done the following morning. Washing basket overflowing, empty drink cups all over the coffee table with empty crisp packets.

Message – Parents to children: keep your room tidy.

Framing – Hey kids, go and tidy your room, I’ve asked you twice this week already to keep it tidy.

Notice in this example, the framing is done not by what’s said rather how the parents are behaving.

What do you think the message is the kids are getting from their parents?


How would you re-frame the message? 


To frame your message follows these steps:

Who’s it to?

What’s the message?

What’s the message about? (this is the frame). If the ‘about’ and message are inconsistent with each other, this is when you have a mismatch between what’s intended and what’s received.

What’s the real message behind the message?