10 Sure Ways for Giving a Lousy Presentation

There’s no shortage of resources and opinions about how to give a good presentation. At a risk of repeating what others have already said, here is my list of presentation faux pas. These are guaranteed to derail any pitch regardless of how relevant, important or interesting the message is. I skipped obvious mistakes that I haven’t seen in a while like adding audio or animated GIFs. Good riddance.

  1. Meander between random topics without a common thread. This will keep them guessing, build tension, and deliver a stronger message. For maximum impact, end with a bang – preferably unrelated to anything you mentioned earlier.
  2. The more slides, the better. You have a captive audience so be sure to make the most of the time you’ve been given by going through as many slides as you can. Cover every nook and cranny to make sure all their questions are answered before they even ask.
  3. Put a lot of text on each slide. The more the merrier. The more the better. The more the greater. The more the awesomer (use a thesaurus if you run out of words.) While presenting, be sure to read every word. The font is so small that they can’t read it themselves anyway.
  4. Jump up and down levels of abstraction. Talk about the overall picture, then about some specific detail, then jump back up and down again – this time in a different direction. Do it fast to keep the audience on their toes.
  5. Ignore the audience. After all, you know your stuff better. Their job is to listen, and since you did your homework and rehearsed several times, you know exactly what they want to hear. Who cares if they are bored or can’t keep up; just keep talking.
  6. Sprinkle tyypos, wrong letTer Case, and, bad, punctuation throughout. Grammar and language don’t matter when the presentation is so fascinating and the speaker is so engaging.
  7. Don’t bother with the visual design of your presentation. A good design is a distraction, masking what’s really important. Black Times New Roman bullets on a white background are fine. It shows how focused you are, not wasting time on trivialities.
  8. Give plenty of irrelevant examples. Examples directly related to the topic are lame. Think creatively and come up with examples that have nothing to do with the message you’re trying to deliver, to get the audience to think out of the box. Like eating cheese in the dessert.
  9. If you’re pitching a product, don’t actually show it. Who says a picture is worth a thousand words? Who says a demo is worth a million? Your presentation is so good that they should understand what your product does without seeing it. And if they can’t, they’re not the right customers anyway.
  10. Mumble a lot. If the audience asks you to speak up, ignore them. They should make an effort to understand you. If … you … speak … clearly … and … slowly you won’t be able to cover all the material you worked so hard to prepare.
  11. Run over time. The audience is there already so you might as well take advantage of that and drone on for a while. They’ll be thankful; their next meeting must be worse than this one.
  12. You promised 10 slides? give them 11. Every presenter is a sales guy, and as such nobody expects you to say the truth. If you do, they’ll be surprised and confused. Believe in yourself even when you lie.
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