10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation


I’m always looking to improve my public persona and a few months ago I wrote a post on how to gain confidence to be an effective public speaker. Recently I came across a great paper from Harvard Business Review entitled “How to Give a Killer Presentation” that is a great read. Within that there was a sidebar with great tips focused on surefire ways to ruin a presentation that I thought I’d pass along.

  1. Take a really long time to explain what your talk is about.

  2. Speak slowly and dramatically. Why talk when you can orate?

  3. Make sure you subtly let everyone know how important you are.

  4. Refer to your book repeatedly. Even better, quote yourself from it.

  5. Cram your slides with numerous text bullet points and multiple fonts.

  6. Use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make yourself sound smart.

  7. Speak at great length about the history of your organization and its glorious achievements.

  8. Don’t bother rehearsing to check how long your talk is running.

  9. Sound as if you’re reciting your talk from memory.

  10. Never, ever make eye contact with anyone in the audience.


Remember these are all ways to ruin your presentation, not improve it. So if you are guilty of any of these maybe it’s time to stop if you want to become a better speaker.

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