10 Worst Things You Can Do During a Presentation

Think back to the last presentation you attended.  Were you interested and engaged in what the speaker was saying?  If not, you were probably distracted by some of the speaker’s bad habits.  The most important part of a presentation is NOT the information you are presenting, but rather HOW you present the information.  Regardless of how knowledgeable you might be on a topic, you will annoy your audience and lose their attention if you have poor speaking habits.   Here is a list of the 10 worst things you can do during a presentation.

#1: Reading the Presentation

The most annoying presentation is also the easiest to fall victim to.  If you are a using a visual aid such as a PowerPoint slideshow, it can be tempting to read the slides to your audience.  However, your audience did not come to a presentation to be ready to, and you are imparting no additional information.  This gives your audience no reason to keep listening because they can simply read the slide themselves.

#2: Use Too Many Filler Words

You might not notice all the “umms” and “uhhs” that you are using but your audience will.  Whether this is the result of nerves or lack of knowledge, it will quickly ruin your credibility.  Oftentimes this happens unconsciously, so always practice in front of an audience who will make you aware of this bad habit.

#3: Distracting Mannerisms

You may have noticed speakers who pace back and forth, speak with their hands in their pockets, touch their hair, clench their hands, grip the lectern, or place their hands behind their backs.  Any of these mannerisms can distract the audience and cause you to lose your credibility.  Instead, rehearse your presentation and work on purposeful movement.

#4: Avoid Eye Contact

No matter how experienced the speaker, a common mistaking is avoiding eye contact during the presentation.  Their eyes might even dart constantly around the room without ever pausing to actually see individual audience members.  Effective eye communication is one of the most important nonverbal skills.

#5: Speaking in a Monotone Voice

It is difficult enough for audience members to sit through a presentation, let alone listening to a speaker with a monotone voice.  When you fail to use proper voice inflection, you are setting yourself up to lull your audience to sleep.

#6: Talking Too Long

It’s understandable that you have a lot of information to present to your audience but talking for too long is not going to make you appear more credible.  Audiences will likely be annoyed by your lengthy presentation and they will start checking the time and thinking about others things they need to be doing.  Keep your presentation short and to the point.

#7: Lack of Energy

Audiences will feed off the energy of the speaker.  If you fail to exude energy, your audiences will quickly lose focus.  Enthusiasm is perhaps an audience’s most desired trait in a speaker.  It shows them that you are passionate about the topic and your energy will be contagious.

#8: Piling on the Information

You might feel like you have a ton of information to cover in a short amount of time, but your audiences will not connect with large amounts of data.  Relying on over-crowded slides and gobs of data will confuse the audience and exhaust their attention.  Ditch this habit and focus on just a few important points that will allow you to inspire and connect with the audience.

#9: Not Using Visuals

While some people might argue that slideshows are boring and lack creativity, avoiding visuals altogether can be a detriment to your presentation.  Many people are visual learners and have to see information in order to understand it.  Visuals also help audiences connect with your message.

#10: Not Rehearsing

If you think you are going to step out on stage and wing it, you might want to think again.  Audiences can spot a novice presenter a mile away.  No matter how well you think you know the topic, it is still important to prepare by organizing your content and rehearsing your presentation.  Otherwise, audiences end up hearing the unrefined run-through instead of the perfected final performance.