Perfect is the Wrong Target for Your Presentation

A man wearing a bullseye shirt representing the pursuit of perfect

Business writer Patrick Lencioni says, “Trying to design the perfect plan is the perfect recipe for disappointment.” He’s on to something. Lencioni has sold more than five million books.

The same holds for presentations. Perfection doesn’t work there either.

No one ever walked out of a business presentation and said to a colleague, “Wow, that was a perfect PowerPoint.” Never.

No, you don’t want to come across as sloppy, unprepared, or unprofessional. That’s common sense. But stop short of aiming for flawless. Pursuit of perfection has ruined many a presentation.

Don’t Aim for What isn’t Possible

Too often presenters think if they have the perfect PowerPoint, graphics, and pictures and they give a perfect performance, they are sure to achieve their goals. 

Then they hit a pot hole driving to the presentation and dump coffee on their perfectly pressed shirt.


Life is filled with pot holes. So are presentations. Learning how to navigate around them and surviving the ones you hit anyway goes a lot farther than the mythical pursuit of perfection.  

What Audiences Really Want

Audiences—no matter how demanding—don’t want flawless. They want a presenter who is comfortable, approachable, and believable. They want a person they can relate to, not a robot they can’t connect with.  

Here’s the other reason perfection doesn’t work: It has the wrong focus. A great presenter is focused on his or her audience and their needs, not his or her need to be perfect. The presenter who puts her entire focus on the audience instead of her need to be flawless is far more powerful and effective.

The Ironic Effect

If someone looked perfect, sounded spot on, had the greatest PowerPoint, and used Academy Award caliber body language, most people in the audience would hate that presenter. It would freak out the audience.

In this video, I’ll show you why aiming for perfect is the wrong target for your presentation and what you should aim for instead.  Enjoy.

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