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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

By Geoffrey James

Most business presentations suck.  They're boring.  They're confusing.  They're out of touch.  This gallery explains exactly why most presentations are so dreadful, and what to do make your own presentations better.

Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Too Freakin' Long

Too Freakin' Long

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Complicated Graphics

Complicated Graphics

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Reading from Slides

Reading from Slides

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Unreadable Fonts

Unreadable Fonts

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Redundant Content

Redundant Content

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Busy Backgrounds

Busy Backgrounds

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

All Opinion, No Facts

All Opinion, No Facts

All Opinion, 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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Biz-Blab

Biz-Blab

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...)

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Irrelevant Information

Irrelevant Information

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Crappy Clip Art

Crappy Clip Art

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Skipping Around

Skipping Around

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Wrong Audience

Wrong Audience

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Technical Difficulties

Technical Difficulties

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Intro is Too Long

Intro is Too Long

Intro is 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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Weak Attempts at Humor

Weak Attempts at Humor

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Overly Fancy Slides

Overly Fancy Slides

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

All Data, No Story

All Data, No Story

All Data, 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 smartphones 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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Meandering

Meandering

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

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Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Discussion Ratholes

Discussion Ratholes

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com

Top 20 Reasons Presentations Suck and How To Fix Them

Wrong Time of Day

Wrong Time of Day

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.

RELATED POST: Create a Dynamite Presentation in 6 Easy Steps

REQUEST: The more people who read this post, the fewer sucky presentations we'll ALL have to sit through.  So click the Facebook "LIKE" button on the top of the post, so that your colleagues view this posts.  Remember: the more people who know what NOT to do, the more likely it is that you'll see fewer sucky presentations.

IMPORTANT: Enjoy this post?  To see more, email me through my website: GeoffreyJames.com