October 23

Stop repeating these 3 things in your presentation


Repetition can be a very effective way to make sure your key ideas are heard and remembered by your prospect.  It’s often helpful to repeat benefits, competitive differentiators, even the customer’s questions or words.  So how can repetition possibly hurt you in sales?

Human beings are quick to pick up on patterns. It allows us to sort and select what we give our attention to.  Because of its power, unconsciously used, repetitive behaviors, words or phrases can overshadow and detract from even the most brilliant of presentations or pitches.  For example:

  • John continually asks, “Does that make sense?” after each point. By the 4th time, his audience is mildly annoyed and starting to keep a tally in their head.
  • Like a song played entirely on the note of C, Mark delivers every word of his presentation at the same level. Like the teacher in Charlie Brown, all his audience hears after a few minutes is “Wah, wah, wah, wah…”
  • Carrie does a repetitive two-step as she’s presenting that is so distracting it is difficult to focus on what she is saying.

Seemingly harmless repetitive words and behaviors like these can damage your credibility and quickly turn an engaged audience into a disengaged one.

3 Things to Stop Repeating in Your Presentation or Pitch:

These are the most common distracting repetitive behaviors I see presenters making today.  Fortunately, with a little awareness, understanding and practice, they can be eliminated.

1. Repetitive Language:

Like most repetitive phrases, John’s “Does that make sense” is well meaning.  Gauging the audience’s level of understanding is important.  But when non-critical phrases are over-used, your good intentions start to grate, or, in John’s case, feel a bit condescending.

If you find yourself repeating a question over and over, ask yourself “Why?” Are you concerned your audience is confused?  Did you try to cover too much detail, or are you just looking for assurance?

When you need to check in with your audience, vary the way that you do it.  Instead of repeating “Does that make sense?” ask your prospect a more specific question, like “Where can you see using this in your current process?” Suggest questions that other customers have asked.  Mixing your language up will keep your audience engaged and encourage them to share things they otherwise might not have.

Filler words such as; like, so, you know, um, are often habitual and can drive even the most patient audience member to the edge of sanity – or at least to their smartphone.  Read more about how words can sabotage your pitch – and what to do about it here.

2. Repetitive Vocal Style:

With prospect’s attention spans at an all time low anyway, repetitive vocal patterns can give your audience an easy excuse to tune out and miss your message.

You don’t have to change your entire speaking voice, but look for natural places to add variety. Consider changing your intonation, volume, or emphasis when you want to call attention to a particular point.  Try alternating a quicker pace with a slower pace. Use pauses.

Get more tips on leveraging your voice to its fullest here.

3. Repetitive Movement:

Our very survival as human beings has depended – and still depends – on being alert enough to avoid danger.  For that reason, we are wired to respond to movement.  As a presenter, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by planning out purposeful movement to support your message and manage your audience’s eyes.

But movement becomes an unnecessary distraction when it’s repetitive and not tied to any purpose.  Many people have what I call a “go to move” – touching their hair, shifting their weight, etc. – when they’re in the spotlight.  To find out what your go-to-move is you’ll likely need to record yourself or enlist the help of a colleague or friend.

Nerves and tension are the underlying cause of most distracting movements. Find out how to reduce them and have your body support your message by downloading my Free 7 Minute Power Warm-up here. (under “tools”)

Let me repeat:

Repetition is an extremely effective way to make sure key ideas are heard and remembered by your audience.  You can use that fact to your advantage by carefully choosing what elements you want to repeat and eliminating those unconscious patterns that draw your prospect’s attention away from your message.

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