Yesterday I had the singular displeasure of sitting through a particularly bad presentation, so bad that I had to write this article as a form of catharsis (see: Aristotle). Without further ado, here are my Top 3 Presenting Don'ts:
Reading off a slide or other presentation materials - This might be my biggest pet peeve: When someone just stands there and reads directly off of what they are presenting. PowerPoint presentations are where you see this the most, as the offender in question will just sit there and read their slides word for word. What good does this do me? I could easily read the presentation on my own time and get the same thing out of it. The same goes true for just reading paragraphs from your notes. Even if you are giving a speech, you should be using notes. Bottom line: Don't use your materials as a crutch, use them as a tool.
Um...yeah...Um - Another problem I have is when the presenter is not a good public speaker. This may sound harsh, but it really grates on my nerves when every other word out of the presenter's mouth is "Um". The biggest problem with this is that the flow of the presentation is interrupted every time one of these words slips out. If the flow of the presentation is constantly disturbed, the audience is going to get less out of the presentation. Another problem (at least in my eyes) is that these words make the presenter sound less professional and sure of themselves. It's much easier to get your point across if you are seen as an expert rather than the intern.
Looking at your feet - Last but not least, I hate it when a presenter constantly looks anywhere else besides their audience. This is awful practice and serves to keep the audience distant from the presentation as opposed to deep into the content. Eye contact really draws people in and makes them pay attention. If you don't maintain eye contact, you've probably lost half your audience right off the bat.
These are three of the biggest problems I see at many of the presentations I attend. I'd be interested in finding out what others think of the problems I've stated above, and any other problems you've experienced.
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