skip to Main Content

Public Speaking Presentation Errors And How To Avoid Them

I recently attended a prominent conference where the main speaker (who wont be named) recently committed a number of presentation blunders.

Presentation Mistake 1: Too much content

The speaker had a twenty minute slot in which to engage with the audience. Unfortunately he came with a previously used presentation with 90 minutes worth of content. Rather than remove or ignore any of the content the approach of talking VERY VERY quickly was adopted. So what was already a complicated and thought provoking subject was suddenly delivered at a rapid speed. Now this did have an interesting effect in that it appeared that almost half the audience switched off from trying to listen and started checking their mobile phones. I was genuinely interested in the subject matter so was trying my hardest to concentrate on the content but the challenge of

  • talking very quickly
  • rapidly flicking through slides
  • not looking at the audience (due to mistake 3)
  • resulted in me gaining absolutely nothing from the presentation, Less would definitely have been more in relation to using 5 slides instead of the 35 shown

Presentation Mistake 2: No emotion

A monotone, emotionless delivery regardless of the content of the presentation is always going to reduce its impact. This speaker had a single level of delivery from start to finish, even the frenetic pace of the delivery was unable to give the presentation any dynamism. The monotone delivery resulted in zero engagement with the audience

Presentation Mistake 3: Reading the on screen slides

Possibly one of the worst presentation mistakes is where you have powerpoint slides filled with text that you show on screen and then proceed in reading directly from the screen. I believe that a human can read 7 times faster than a person can speak. Now in this case the speaker was talking very fast but.. Now there are perhaps going to be instances where you will read some content from the slide but  not on every slide.

Presentation Mistake 4: Lack lustre visuals

If you are going to use PowerPoint as part of your overnight presentation then you should really make use of its powerful visual capabilities. Now I’m not talking about animations wooshing in from the side, coming to a screeching halt or the ease at which ‘clip art’ can be added. If you think about the messages that you are trying to communicate within a limited time frame then powerful visuals can act as a compelling support media to the spoken word. I will write about developing PowerPoint slides in a future article. In our speakers case it was slides full of very small text.
Now compare this approach to the next speaker who had a 20 minute slot and by all accounts was more used to having a couple of hours to present on the complex topic. So how did they manage to present so much more effectively

  1. Content: At the start of the presentation the speaker outlined that he only had 20 minutes and would cover three key points. The presentation he was going to deliver had been specifically developed (and tested for a 20 minute slot)
  2. Emotion: The speaker on entering the stage had a visual slide that caught the attention of the audience and with his well practised 30 second introduction immediately engaged with the audience. The presentation was delivered at speed that allowed for pauses; and included some appropriate humour.
  3. Reading slides: The speaker was passionate and knowledgeable about his subject. This meant that he didn’t have to refer to notes or scripts. This meant that he kept eye contact with the audience and was able to project his voice as opposed to looking down into notes
  4. The speaker had 5 highly visual slides that perfectly complimented the point he was trying to put over
  5. 2 weeks after the presentation I can still remember the 3 key points the speaker said he wanted to communicate.

Public Speaking Presentation Errors And How To Avoid Them

If you would like more information on presentation skills please call click here on 01733 361729 or e mail

Back To Top