What Not to Do During a Presentation

If you are like me you have attended a few conferences or conventions in your lifetime and have most likely sat through many a presentation.  The cold hotel meeting room, lukewarm powerpoint presentation, uncomfortable chairs, sub-par A/V equipment…you get the picture.  There are times (though they may be few) that I have been really wowed by a presenter.  I was listening to every word, following along in the presentation and really enjoying every minute.  The speakers who can deliver are very, very special.

I always say that a great presenter has a gift.  Here are a few speakers I’ve seen recently who have the gift: Erik Wahl, Jeanne Robertson, General Russell Honore, Jason Dorsey, and Christine Cashen.  They all share some things in common…charisma, great speaking skills, storytelling ability and delivery.

I’ve also endured my fair share of bad presenters and I usually sit in the audience and pity the poor person on stage.  Here are ten things that I’ve seen presenters do wrong:

1. Be Immensely Boring. Come on, even if your topic is boring (like spreadsheets) find a way to make it relatable and fun.

2. Claim to be a social media guru with only 12 Twitter followers and 3 tweets. Don’t even get me started on this one, I see it all the time.

3. Start out by saying you were up late, had a bad flight, bad hotel room etc. I get that bad things happen when you travel, but we (the audience) don’t care…never let them see you sweat! 

4. State this is the largest audience you’ve ever spoken in front of. Hey that’s cool, but fake it till ya make it…we don’t need to know that this is your first big break.  Own it. 

5. Bash other presenters.  Or anyone really, the audience doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable and if you are bashing a previous speaker or competitor it makes us uneasy. 

6. Long, complicated powerpoint slides.  Powerpoint is a necessary evil when presenting but it doesn’t have to be an eye exam.  It should enhance your presentation not overpower it.

7. Skip a slide. Wait…what was on that slide? We are dying to know.  If you aren’t going to use the slide, get it out of your deck.

8. Pace too much.  Don’t move around too much, it’s very distracting and then that’s all we focus on…your moving around the stage.

9. Never move from behind the podium.  Just as distracting and it feels cold…you want to connect with your audience you need to get out from behind the podium.

10. Talk about this funny video, then video doesn’t play in presentation.  Listen A/V crap happens, I know this firsthand, but if you are going to go on and on about how great the video is in your presentation, make darn sure it plays.  We really want to see it.


Those are my ten…what about you, what would you add to the list?


Here’s a good article on what great speakers don’t say.