50 deadly presentation mistakes


Our job revolves around delivering workshops across the country for various Corporates, and over a few years, we have learned a lot. Now, it’s time for us to pass on our learning to our readers. Here in this blog we share 50 common mistakes made by speakers:

  1. No rapport : Rapport building is necessary if you want your audience to engage with you. This can be done through icebreakers, energizers or humor. And if you want to be unique, bend it like Steve Ballmer, ex-CEO of Microsoft – 

  2. Unplanned presentation : Unplanned presentations make you fumble, it’s a sign that you don’t care about the audience. Be ready with your presentation two days in advance.
  3. No eye contact : Eye contact helps you develop a relationship with an audience. Let your eyes do the talking.
  4. Freezing yourself at one spot : Use the presentation area fully and try to reach out to everyone. Remember, communication comprises of 55% Body language. Watch Robin Sharma use the stage:

  5. Keeping hands in pockets or crossed : Body language matters a lot during public speaking and crossing hands or keeping them in pockets might not go well with your audience.
  6. Criticizing your audience : Never criticize anybody in your audience, instead learn ways to manage unwanted behavior.
  7. Inappropriate Humor : Humor elements must not offend your audience. Never take advantage of someone for getting some laughs.
  8. Unfamiliarity with equipment : This can jeopardize your presentation. So reach early, check all equipment and do a test before the final show.
  9. Too many slides : Adding too many slides can backfire. Avoid death by power-point. But if you want to use far too many slides, check out Seth Godin’s presentations, he is a master.
  10. Reading from the slides : Well, this is the worst thing you can do to your audience. Reading your slides will disconnect your audience completely!
  11. Too many visuals : Too many visuals might distract the audience from the main theme of the presentation. Have a balance of visuals and text.
  12. Text and text everywhere : Universal truth:- “NO ONE READS A PRESENTATION”
  13. Incoherent speech : If you are confused on stage, take a pause, deep breathe, and then start.
  14. Wasting slides on inappropriate content : Focus on your topic and choose the content carefully.
  15. Using jargons : Your industry specific jargons are familiar to your industry but might be foreign to others, so avoid using too many jargons, unless you want to lose your audience.
  16. Not scripting the presentation : How presentation starts decides the direction of the presentation. So plan a good start to your presentation.
  17. Awful background design : Unprofessional background design can distract your audience. Ensure that it makes your content stand out.
  18. Poor font choices : Keep a standard font size throughout your presentation and do not strain your participants’ eyesight.
  19. Different animations on every slide : Keep your presentation standard throughout. Too much of animation will distract your audience.
  20. No key points : There is no point of the presentation if you don’t have any key points. Ask yourself, “What’s the main point?”
  21. Avoiding questions : If participants ask questions it means that they are interested in knowing more about your presentation, so, never ignore your audience or their questions.
  22. Boring content : Use your personal stories to convey your message. Storytelling is the best way to engage your audience.
  23. Disorganised presentation : You can’t start from a plant, then move to tree, then to seed, then again to tree and again to plant. Plan your presentation from the start till the end in a proper flow.
  24. Making last minute preparation : Last minute preparation will keep your mind conscious about the presentation. Be prepared in advance.
  25. Exceeding the allotted time : It is unprofessional to cross your allotted time. Do not make your presentation a never ending monologue.
  26. Inappropriate attire : Attire must complement your presentation. Your attire communicates with the audience too. Indian PM, Shri Narendra Modi, is particular about his attire. He believes in connecting with people through his attire – 
    Image Reference: http://s3.india.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/PM_Modi-independence-day_Speech_PTI.jpg
  27. Late arrival : Never reach late at your presentation venue; never make your audience wait. Reach well before time, at max 15 min early. See this video – Minister “Quits” for being late – 

  28. Monotonous voice : Keep your voice dynamic. Feel your presentation yourself to make others feel it too.
  29. No self-introduction : Do not rush into the presentation; people want to know you too! Introduce yourself.
  30. No introduction of the topic : Introduction of the topic gives the audience a brief idea about where presentation will go and what to expect.
  31. Using fillers : Do not fumble or use fillers, rather take a deep breath and start again.
  32. Cook up fake stories : If you don’t know anything, accept it and commit to answer it later, but do not pretend like you know everything, it might ruin your image.
  33. No takeaways : Conclude your presentation with the relevant points. Best is to provide a call to action for the audience.
  34. Droopy face : Have a good night’s sleep a day prior to the presentation. You must look fresh and energetic during your presentation.
  35. Trying hard to look perfect : Imperfections have its own perfections. Do not try to look perfect, be vulnerable, else you will end up making your audience more suspicious.
  36. Making controversial comments : This one is quite important. Everyone loves it but I don’t think everyone loves it..is it a controversial statement!
  37. Rushing through the slides : Keep a check on your pace; if you need more time, ask for more time. Better to stop than to rush.
  38. No pause : Use pauses at the right moment from time to time. Hmmmm…….
  39. No Q&A : If people have questions give them an opportunity to ask or connect with them later.
  40. Copying other presenters : Be yourself, if you copy others, you will be at best a second copy.
  41. Having a monologue : Not all presentations will involve a two-way communication, but you can use specifically timed “Questions” to make your presentation engaging.
  42. Not thanking the organizers : Thank the organizers for their effort in planning the event, and thank the participants for their enthusiasm and patience. See how Obama does it –

  43. Nervous after making mistakes : It’s okay to make a mistake. Simply accept it and move forward. Forget what happened and make the rest of the presentation a success.
  44. Too many speakers at a time : To have one of your partners for a presentation is great, but anything more than two speakers, at one time, can cause confusion and distraction.
  45. Gazing at the wall : Your content is not hung on the wall. Have an eye contact with your audience.
  46. Fail to engage audience prior to your presentation : If you get an opportunity to mingle with the participants before the presentation, don’t hesitate. Develop rapport, share your story and hear them out.
  47. No breaks : If you have a long presentation to deliver, plan adequate water/loo breaks. Provide a breather to your audience.
  48. Not listening to your audience : Everybody knows that you are the speaker but listen to your audience. Evaluate their body language, sense their mood and deliver your presentation accordingly.
  49. Using your cell phone : Don’t use your cell phone, unless it’s a prop in your presentation. Respect your audience and remove all barriers between you and your audience.
  50. Using the F Word : Using the F word to sound cool or show aggression might dent your reputation. But if you are Gary Vaynerchuk, this doesn’t apply to you.

Hope you like the blog, happy presenting!

If you find it useful, share the blog with your friends, and family members. 

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