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Conference speakers – what not to do

Have you ever looked forward to a presentation because it was on a topic that you were keen to learn about only to be disappointed by its delivery? That recently happened to me. I was at a conference where all of the speakers were informative and entertaining … until one particular session.

The following points highlight some of the reasons I was disappointed.

First impression

When the presenter came on stage her appearance was a distraction. Most speakers think about what they will wear when presenting at a conference.

Your appearance has an impact on the impression that you give. It appeared that this particular speaker had not thought about what would be appropriate attire for a presentation. She did not look as though she felt comfortable on stage in her outfit either.

I initially thought it was me but on glancing around noticed the shocked looks on a few people's faces. It is easy to say that we should not make judgements on a person's appearance. Unfortunately we do – it only takes three seconds to form an opinion after meeting someone.

I tried to look past that even though her outfit was distracting and seemed inappropriate. This person was 'the expert' on the topic and I was keen to learn about how to use the information in my business.

Use of PowerPoint

The slides were designed without thinking about the audience. The colours used made them difficult to read. Instead of using key words, lengthy sentences were used. This resulted in the audience trying to read the slides and not being able to fully listen to what the speaker had to say.

The slides were too cluttered with information and reflect an earlier article of mine where I discussed PowerPoint gone wild. They were indeed wild!

Delivery of presentation

I am sure that this presenter knew her topic however her delivery of the material was not engaging. When people tried to ask questions she often did not answer them leaving us all rather confused.

When going through the various slides in her slideshow she tended to jump from one point to another – not in any particular order. How confusing.

As the time for the session came to a close, the speaker announced that she had not covered all of the material that she had wanted to and just left it there without offering an email address or website to find out more information.

After the presentation

General conversation following the presentation was interesting. Unfortunately none of us actually remembered the key points of the topic. What we did remember were all of the distracting elements of the presentation.

I had been looking forward to learning something new in that session and unfortunately I walked out of the session disappointed – there had been too many distractions.

Five Tips

To avoid being that distracting presenter leaving a poor impression, here are five tips to assist you in delivering an effective presentation:

  1. Think about what you will wear – ensure that you are comfortable and dressed appropriately
  2. Keep your slides simple with only key words
  3. Engage the audience and maintain eye contact during your presentation
  4. Answer questions using appropriate examples
  5. Ensure that you stay to time – the timing is refined during the preparation stage of your presentation

By keeping these points in mind, there is a great chance that your audience will be raving about your presentation… in a positive way.


Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. Her programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
30 Business Communication Tips

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