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What Bad Presenters Do Best

whyRecently I was lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view) to attend a conference where there were some pretty average presentations.  Afterwards I started to compare notes from some of my fellow delegates as to what were the most common failings of presenters.

 Afterwards I continued this discussion online and here are a summary of the things that drive audiences nuts!

  • Lack of clear purpose for the presentation (other than filling a time slot)
  • Presenters who stand in front of their own projector and pretend to be a screen
  • Presenters who spend most of their time reading out the words on their slides
  • Presenters who show complex and unintelligible slides and then apologise for showing them
  • Presenters who don’t make eye contact with their audience
  • Presenters who try and compress two days worth of data into a 15 minute presentation
  • Lack of congruence – i.e presenters who say one thing on stage and then behave in a contary manner when off stage
  • Presenters who fail to think about the interests of the audience
  • Presenters who fail to involve the audience
  • Using material created by someone else without a proper understanding of the content
  • Using copies of the PowerPoint slides as a hand-out without proper background notes
  • Using jargon and TLAs
  • Not monitoring the energy level in the room.
  • Using the invitation to present to sell (a) his/her own product(s) (b) his/her own ego.
  • Making repeated grandiose reference to “as I say in my latest book…”
  • Too long!
  • They present because they’ve been asked not because of their ability
  • The presentation is delivered, they do not talk to anyone
  • Try to be funny when they are not
  • Give solutions for which there are no problems
  • Start and finish as opposed to have a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • Lack enthusiasm
  • Turn up in the first place. It would be kinder to have an attack of stage fright.
  • Using PowerPoint because it’s what ‘proper’ presenters do.
  • Using every animation and effect in PowerPoint because it’s there.
  • Relying on notes and the content of the talk is clearly as much a surprise to the presenter as it is to the audience.
  • Apologising at the start of the presentation for the ‘boring’ content
  • Failing to project to the back of the room, promising to raise their voice or adjust their microphone, and then carrying on exactly as before while asking “is this better?”
  • Forgetting business can be fun – we’re all human and laughter makes learning easier.

So there is no shortage of mistakes that can be made.  The good news is that the solutions are relatively simple.

Have a great week

  1. Denise Taylor on 28/11/2007 at 08:26

    This is excellent advice and I’ll be referring my clients to this page. Like you I see far too many poorly presented pesentations, especially by academics and civil servants, with their crammed details on a slide. I wonder if they ever do a practice run?

    As an interviewer, a candidate can make a significant impact by a well thought out presentation and often they get to prepare in advance but still are too long, poorly written slides that they read out and nothing to engage with the audience.


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