Have you ever gone to a presentation interested in the topic only to be disappointed by its delivery?
I recently had just that experience. My interest soon turned to disappointment as the presenter followed what I call the 5 habits to ruin a presentation. Would it put them in the running for the title of the World's Worst Presenter? Possibly so!
Unfortunately for this speaker, there was nothing positive to be said about his presentation. Initially the audience was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. This was in the hope that after the opening, the presentation would become relevant and worth our time and effort. Instead, it was all about him and his organization. It was almost an hour of self-promotion.
Leave or stay?
The dilemma then was do I leave or do I stay? I decided to stay, hoping that at some stage the presentation would become relevant to myself and the other professionals who were politely sitting in the audience.
Unfortunately, it never did. So that I didn't feel as though I was wasting my time, I began to check my emails on my smartphone. When I looked around many other people were doing the same.
You may be asking, what could this person have done that was so bad?
5 habits to ruin a presentation
Here is a summary of what the presenter did do and what I would strongly recommend other presenters not do. I have also included some suggestions that could have improved the presentation.
#1 Don't consider your audience
There was no indication from the speaker that he had considered who would be in his audience.
When preparing the presentation, ask yourself: What is it about this topic that may interest the audience?
Find ways to gain the interest of your audience.
#2 Ignore your audience
During the presentation, the speaker did not at any point in time engage his audience. It was almost as if we didn't exist.
Something as simple as asking a question that required a show of hands may have been useful to gain the audience's attention.
#3 Have too much information on slides
The slides were difficult to read and had too much information to try to absorb.
Less is more – keep the slides simple and where possible, replace text with images.
#4 Don't practise the presentation
It seemed as though the speaker was uncertain as to what was coming next on the slides.
He used too many fillers such as 'um'. I heard so many that I considered counting the number of 'ums' being said just to keep listening to the presentation. After a while the constant use of fillers also frustrated me. In the end, the only note that I wrote about the presentation was a title: The Um King.
Practise the presentation until you are comfortable and confident with the content and visual aids. Your audience will be appreciative of your efforts.
#5 Be monotonic
Voice has an important role in the delivery of a presentation. This speaker had a very monotonic voice and did nothing to emphasise key points with the use of voice.
Prepare your voice in the lead up to your presentation including practising using the power of the pause. This will help to engage the members of your audience throughout the presentation.
The end result
After an excruciatingly long hour, I asked myself if I would consider doing business with that organization. My answer to myself was an emphatic 'no'.
The purpose of the presentation was to inform and educate. In the eyes of the audience this purpose was not achieved.
The only positive that I could take from the presentation was that it was a great conversation topic afterwards of what not to do in a presentation.
At the end of a presentation, you want people to be talking about you but for all of the right reasons, not the wrong ones. You definitely don't want to be in the running for the title of World's Worst Presenter.
What bad habits have you witnessed at a presentation?