10 Ways to Give a Terrible Presentation by Philip Nation

On a regular basis, I present information. Weekly, I preach sermons and teach Bible studies. Periodically, I teach at universities. On top of those, I also speak at leadership conferences of different types. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a bad presenter in the past and have been witness to some bad presentations in my time. Honing my presentation skills is something that has required a fair amount of discipline in my life… which is a joy to give so that the truth being discussed is not muddled by communication goof-ups.

PowerPoint (and all of its digital equivalents) is a great tool for speakers, teachers, and presenters of all sorts. As we’ve all watched presentation moments die in front of us, let me give 10 warnings about how not to use PowerPoint.

  1. Put too many words on a slide. After all, the more words you put on the screen, the less people will actually listen to what you are saying.
  2. Repeat this on every, single slide. Every time a new slide comes up, make sure it is a flood of words that distracts the listener from the point you are actually making.
  3. Read every word on every slide. Assume your audience is not intelligent enough to actually consume the information.
  4. Use lots of sweeps, pop-ins, fly-away transitions. The use of distracting movement, noises, and odd effects will surely enhance your presentation.
  5. Include dated clip art. After all, there is no need to use nice photography of real people and real life to illustrate how a principle relates to everyday situations.
  6. Don’t set up early. Let everyone watch you wrestle through the set up process and then ask the audience for help. It is so endearing to watch you struggle.
  7. Talk into the screen. When speaking, turn your back on the audience and face the screen while you talk so they understand your priority is on your information rather than on their learning.
  8. Use, at minimum, one slide per minute of talk time. Rushing through more slides than you have time shows that this was a talk “from your heart,” rather than one of those sterile “I prepared diligently for this time” presentations.
  9. Forget the order of your slides. Make sure it is a surprise every time you go to the next slide so you and the audience can share in the next digital treat.
  10. Use it as the point rather than the tool. Spend all of your time preparing your slides rather than your talk to ensure maximum dullness and ineffectiveness.
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