One of The Biggest Mistakes in Business Presentations and Pitches

Posted on Aug 10

Last week I spent some time in beautiful  Scotland and had a great time taking in the magnificent scenery and generally chilling out with walking, great company and good food and wine.

One evening we were talking to the hotel owner about going to Inveraray the next day and wondering what the weather was going to be like . He said that ” you’ll have a braw day  for going to that douce town.” (!!?) Now those of you who hail from north of the border will know what he meant but neither me nor my husband had a clue what he was talking about. Communication channels were a bit confused to say the least!

And I was listening to a business presentation  a few weeks ago where the same thing happened…..I and many others, by the looks on their faces,  didn’t know what the speaker was talking about because he was using lots of words that we didn’t know, that were technical and (his) industry specific terms.  Now I’m sure he wasn’t trying to flummox us on purpose but this can be perceived as arrogant and superior and I overheard one person say ” he’s just showing off how much he knows”. The speaker  just assumed that we knew what he was on about and this is a remarkably common mistake that people make in business presentations and when pitching  and it can have disastrous consequences.

We are so familiar with our area of expertise that we forget that others don’t know as much as we do, particularly if you are speaking to a general, rather than an expert, audience.

This can happen when speaking in all sorts of situations- from doing a 10 min stint at a networking event to pitching for a contract to a procurement panel which can be particularly difficult if the interviewers are from a wide background of different knowledge and experience. And we’re all guilty of this from time to time but not being aware of it  can lose you business.

This is something that I learned the hard way as a teacher – you cannot assume what others know. You have to start from where they are , not where you think they are and be prepared to explain key terms and even though it may seem obvious to you it may be far from obvious for the people you are talking to.

To give you an example  - the Winning Business Presentations approach uses tools and techniques developed from several different disciplines, one of which is Brain Gym.

Brain Gym is a series of 26 specific, short and easy physical movement exercises which are designed to get the brain and physiology working together to reduce stress and optimise performance.

Now most people don’t know what Brain Gym is and if I don’t explain it you can feel left out, ignorant, even stupid and that’s not how I want my listeners ( or readers!) to be. Providing a short explanation shows that it’s ok not to know what it is and those who do know will have a feeling of familiarity and won’t mind being reminded ( as long as it’s brief!)

So have a look at what you are going to say before your next “presentation”. Listen out for any technical or industry specific terms that a general audience may not be familiar with and make sure that you explain them clearly and briefly. This will endear you to your audience and you’ll develop a greater connection and relationship with them which will make you stand out because so many people don’t bother to do it.

Oh and by the way ” braw” means pleasant or fine

and ” douce” means civilised, calm and quiet!

Until next time,

with best wishes for your success,


Cath Daley

p.s. if you want to learn more of these powerful techniques and have lots of fun doing it then why not come along to our latest workshop

I’d love to see you there!

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Posted on Aug 10 in Business Networking, Business Pitching, Business Presentations, Communication skills, Presentation Skills

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