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Top 20 reasons_presentations_suck_and_how_toavoidthem


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  • 1. Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them Geoffrey James
  • 2. Too Freakin' Long
    • Diagnosis: It presents way more than anybody wants to know.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker is “spraying and praying” in hope that something works.
    • What Results: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
    • How to Fix It: Always make your presentation less than half as long as you think it should be.
  • 3. Complicated Graphics
    • Diagnosis: It's full of busy graphics with lots of little details.
    • Why It Happens: One picture is worth a thousand words, right? (Uh, wrong.)
    • What Results: The audience stared glassy-eyed, then pulled out smartphones and started checking emails.
    • How to Fix It: Only include simple graphics; highlight the data point that’s important
  • 4. Reading from Slides
    • Diagnosis: The speaker reads aloud what everyone can read for themselves.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker is unprepared and using slides as a memory-jogger.
    • What Results: By the third slide, the audience is ready to kill the presenter.
    • How to Fix It: Use slides to reinforce your message rather than to outline your data points.
  • 5. Unreadable fonts
    • Diagnosis: The slides have fonts that are too fancy, too small or both.
    • Why It Happens: The fonts looked great on the desktop screen; on the projector… not so much.
    • What Results: The audience squints and peers and then gives up.
    • How to Fix It: Use large fonts in simple faces (like Ariel); avoid boldface, italics and UPPERCASE.
  • 6. Redundant content
    • Diagnosis: The presentation has slides that everyone has already seen.
    • Why It Happens: Somebody is trying to “standardize” on a standard presentation.
    • What Results: The audience gets bored to death.
    • How to Fix It: Never present the same material to the same audience twice.
  • 7. Busy backgrounds
    • Diagnosis: The slides have background templates that are distracting.
    • Why It Happens: Somebody thought it would make the slides look more “professional.”
    • What Results: The audience gets headaches trying to see what is actually on each slide.
    • How to Fix It: Use a simple, single color background. Always.
  • 8. All opinion and no facts
    • Diagnosis: The presentation is all opinions without any supporting data.
    • Why It Happens: Laziness. It’s easy to claim “leadership”; it’s harder to actually be a leader.
    • What Results: The speaker's credibility with the audience leaps down the toilet.
    • How to Fix It: Only state opinions that you can back up with quantifiable data.
  • 9. Biz-blab
    • Diagnosis: The presentation is filled with tacky business buzzwords.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker wrongly thinks that biz-blab sounds “business-like.”
    • What Results: The audience assumes the speaker is 1) pompous, 2) crazy, or 3) talking in tongues.
    • How to Fix It: Just stop it. Please. (The horror... The horror...)
  • 10. Irrelevant information
    • Diagnosis: The speaker includes material that doesn’t really belong in the presentation.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker isn't clear about the message that needs to be conveyed.
    • What Results: The audience loses the train of thought.
    • How to Fix It: Only include material that’s relevant to your overall message.
  • 11. Crappy clip art
    • Diagnosis: It has graphics lifted directly from a low-grade clip art library.
    • Why It Happens: Somebody was trying to save a few bucks and a few minutes.
    • What Results: The audience figures that the speaker is too cheap to do it right.
    • How to Fix It: If you've got to use clip art, buy the good stuff.
  • 12. Skipping around
    • Diagnosis: The speaker flips ahead to another slide, then flipped back.
    • Why It Happens The speaker is trying to edit the presentation real-time.
    • What Results: The audience rightly figures the speaker isn't fully prepared.
    • How to fix it: If you must improvise, do so within the structure of the presentation.
  • 13. Wrong audience
    • Diagnosis: The presentation is on a subject that isn't appropriate to the audience.
    • Why It Happens: The presenter didn't bother to research the audience.
    • What Results: The audience rightly concludes that the presenter doesn’t give a flying.
    • How to Fix It: Always research your audience and customize a story to match.
  • 14. Technical difficulties
    • Diagnosis: Something happens that screws up the slides or the sound.
    • Why It Happens: Nobody bothered to test the setup prior to the presentation.
    • What Results: The audience rightly concludes that the presenter isn't prepared.
    • How to Fix It: Always check, then double-check, the setup.
  • 15. Introduction too long
    • Diagnosis: The first third of the presentation introduces the speaker, his firm and the topic.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker is used to giving a longer presentation and didn’t shorten the intro.
    • What Results: Eye rolling all around as everyone wonders when the speaker will come to the point.
    • How to Fix It: Never spend more than 1 minute on your introduction. Never.
  • 16. Weak Attempts at Humor
    • Diagnosis: The speaker tries to be a comedian but lacks the skills.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker heard somewhere that humor will make a presentation better.
    • What Results: Blank stares.
    • How to Fix It: Unless you've got the skills, leave the humor to professional comedians.
  • 17. Overly Fancy Slides
    • Diagnosis: The presentation is chockablock with special effects and visual jim-cracks.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker was afraid that the audience would find him boring.
    • What Results: Your audience watches the pretty pictures and misses the real message.
    • How to Fix it: Use the minimum visuals that you need to tell the story.
  • 18. All data and no story
    • Diagnosis: It presents scads of information without any context or meaning.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker wrongly assumes the presentation was a lecture.
    • What Results: The audience pulls out their smart phones by the time the fifth slide comes up.
    • How to Fix It: Make your presentation tell a story, ideally with the audience as the heroes.
  • 19. Meandering
    • Diagnosis: The speaker wanders off on a tangent rather than following a train of thought.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker didn’t really take the time to think the presentation through.
    • What Results: The audience rightly assumes the speaker is disjointed and disorganized.
    • How to Fix It: Review your presentation with a colleague, make changes, then rehearse.
  • 20. Discussion Ratholes
    • Diagnosis: The presentation has a slide guaranteed to pitch the discussion down a rathole.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker probably didn't realize that the rathole was there.
    • What Results: The audience starts arguing about the slide, making the entire exercise useless.
    • How to fix it: Think through the emotional impact of EVERY slide in your deck.
  • 21. Wrong Time of Day
    • Diagnosis: The presentation is scheduled for when everyone's mind was elsewhere.
    • Why It Happens: The speaker wrongly believe his message is too important to wait.
    • What Results: The audience barely hears what is said.
    • How to Fix It: Schedule presentations for a time when people will give it proper attention.