7 deadly presentation mistakes to avoid

The seven mistakes that can ruin your carefully thought out speech masterpiece. At least one of these insidious pitfalls often traps even the experienced professional speechgiver. Beware!

1. The “I want to tell you everything” presentation

This presenter is in love with their topic and wants to share it all with you – every nuance, every subtlety, every story. Their passion and enthusiasm is great, but it’s not tempered with any discipline. That results in information overload for the audience.

If you’re guilty of this type of presentation, check out this post: How to Avoid Information Overload in Your Presentation.

2. The “grab bag” presentation

The “grab bag” presentation occurs when the presenter has a miscellany of points that are only loosely related to one another and appear in no structured order. I’ve seen highly experienced, professional speakers fall into the trap of the grab bag presentation.

The solution is to plan your presentation around a key message. That provides you with focus.

3. The “shopping list” presentation

This presentation contains point after point after point. It’s often presented as bullet-point slide after bullet-point slide after bullet-point slide. It’s deadly dull. There’s no variety, no light and shade. It may be organized, but it lacks any evidence: no stories, case studies, endorsements, metaphors or analogies.

The antidote to the shopping list presentation is to include evidence to back up each of your points. I analyzed speeches from Al Gore, Seth Godin, and Malcolm Gladwell. Sixty to 70 percent of their speeches were composed of evidence.

4. The “meringue” presentation

This is the opposite of the shopping list presentation. The presentation is chock full of stories, anecdotes, jokes, shocking statistics and metaphors. It’s highly entertaining and engaging—but an hour later when you try to work out what you’ve learned—there’s a void.

To prevent this, plan your presentation using a solid, three-part structure. Clothe your structure with your stories and anecdotes.

5. The “race against the clock” presentation

This presentation might be well-planned and have a good balance of points and evidence, but the presenter hasn’t rehearsed and timed it. Pretty soon, she becomes aware she’s not going to have enough time to cover everything she planned, and the race is on! Every two minutes she says things like:

“”I’ll just cover this quickly”

“If I have enough time, I’ll let you know about X”

“I wish I had more time to tell you about this,” etc., etc.

Simple solution: rehearse and time your presentation.

6. The “mystery novel” presentation

In this presentation, the presenter holds back the most important point until the end—like a whodunit. Sometimes this can work, but it needs to be carefully planned. More often, the “mystery novel” presentation happens because the presenter didn’t think about the needs of the audience and simply followed their own train of thought, which resulted in a conclusion at the end.

In this post, Why It’s Smarter to Put Your Conclusion in the Opening, I recommend that you should start with your conclusion, but I also offer exceptions to that rule.

7. The “perpetually taxiing” presentation

Consider a presentation to be like an airplane journey. The ideal presentation gets you in the air quickly. But some presentations spend so long on “background,” “methodology” and “who we are,” that they never make it into the air. The audience never gets taken anywhere.

Olivia Mitchell blogs at Speaking about Presenting. Visit her blog for more presentation tips.

Topics: PR


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