Are You Making This Presentation Mistake?

Blog_102512aBy Marissa Brassfield,

We're frequently asked to present our qualifications to others, whether we're in the thick of a keynote or are in the hot seat of an interviewer's chair. In a recent column for Harvard Business Review, motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. shared a presentation mistake that can break even your best efforts.

The biggest mistake people make when listing their qualifications is what psychologists call the "Presenter's Paradox." Let's say, for example, that you list off top-notch and so-so accomplishments together: your prestigious degrees, the companies you've founded, your in-depth programming knowledge… and the two years of language courses you took in college. You might think that the person you're speaking with will add these accomplishments up, but actually, he or she is far more likely to average your accomplishments instead.

"More is actually not better, if what you are adding is of lesser quality than the rest of your offerings," writes Dr. Halvorson. "Highly favorable or positive things are diminished or diluted in the eye of the beholder when they are presented in the company of only moderately favorable or positive things."

Have you ever fallen prey to the Presenter's Paradox?

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