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most effective presentation techniques

10 Effective Presentation Techniques (If You Want to Annoy Your Audience)

We have all been there. Sitting through supposed quality presentations made by professionals that leave you scratching your head. Sometimes we learn the most effective presentation techniques from what not to do.

Let’s look at the top 10 exasperating things that presenters do that make us all go crazy!


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1. Reading the PowerPoint

It seems that 80 percent of all presentations consist of the person just reading the slide word-for-word. The person won’t deviate at all from the slide! This is one of the least effective presentation techniques. We all know how to read. I enjoy books on tape just as much as the next guy, but I don’t need a PowerPoint presentation read to me in slow motion. This could have just been sent to us in an email.

Effective Presentation Tip: Reduce copy on the slide. You’ll be less tempted to read along, and the audience will hear your passion for the subject.

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2. Uhhhhhh…

I don’t expect a rehearsed Broadway show when presentations are being made in conferences and meetings. But could they please limit the amount of “uh…”s to at least double digits? Did they just find out they were going to present two minutes before the meeting started? Are they providing us important information or warming up their voice for when they break out into song later on?

Effective Presentation Tip: Download Ummo to see how often you say “umm” and “uhh” when practicing your speak. Learning you have a problem is half the battle.

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3. Dressing Inappropriately

This might sound like a total no-brainer, but it’s one of the most important and effective presentation techniques. When presenting to a crowd, please wear suitable clothing. If your clothes appear to be vacuum sealed on, I will not be able to pay attention to what you are saying. You could be informing us on how to change copy paper into gold, but if your zipper is down, I will not hear anything you say.

Effective Presentation Tip: If at an event or conference, look up past presentation videos online. You’ll learn a bunch about the audience and what works best for them.

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4. Super-sized Presentations

Some presenters are a bit overeager. They want to share all the knowledge they have gained in the past thirty years in a presentation that is fifteen minutes long. It’s like making the mistake of calling your mom and asking how her day was. Just pick out the main points that will stand out to all of us and leave the rest on the cutting room floor. Less is more.

Presentation Tip: Keep to one slide per minute and one main point per minute, otherwise viewers will feel PowerPoint whiplash.

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5. Overly Technical

You might think coming prepared with a lot of details would be one of the most effective presentation techniques. Unfortunately, too much information can be frustrating and difficult to follow. We’ve all sat through presentations where the person uses technical terms that leave us puzzled. Once they start speaking in acronyms, I start asking other people what time lunch is. I shouldn’t require a PhD just to be able to follow a presentation, unless you plan to refer to me as a doctor.

Effective Presentation Tip: Understand the technical know how of your audience. Unless this is a “How To” presentation, best to speak to what you learned than the exact details.

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If chants of “HURRY UP!” have ever interrupted your professional presentation, then maybe you need a career change. All meetings, conferences, and presentations aren’t expected to be exciting, but they should hold some interest. Show interest about the topic, even if you have to fake it. If a necessary part of the presentation includes giving the audience shots of adrenaline, then give up public speaking and enter the amazing world of miming!

Effective Presentation Tip: If you need help, here are 8 PowerPoint presentation tips to avoid boring.

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7. Design Blunders

Not everyone is a designer, but many people put together decent presentations using PowerPoint. However, if you’re making a big presentation finding a creative presentation design agency should be a priority! They will help turn your brilliant ideas into equally brilliant audience engaging visuals. The audience does not want to look at something that appears to be created by your four year old daughter. Unless it is a cat picture. Everyone loves a hand drawn cat picture.

Effective Presentation Tip: Come to your PowerPoint designer with your presentation complete for the best results. They can understand your full vision and more quickly aid in bringing it to life!

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8. Questionable Content

No, I am not speaking of displaying half-clothed pictures during your presentation (although more people would probably pay attention). I’m talking about the value of your content to your audience. Does an accountant need to know how to do graphic design? Does a doctor need to know how to juggle? Do designers have to know the pythagorean theorem? Know your audience beforehand.

Effective Presentation Tip: Be willing to edit content on the fly based on audience reaction.

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9. Not Admitting When You Lack Information

Near the end of every presentation, most people will ask if there are any questions. Interaction is what separates presenting to an audience from practicing in front of the mirror! The members in the crowd will always ask questions. The audience believes you are supposed to be some sort of expert in something, otherwise why would their bosses hire you to waste their time?

There will always be that one stranger asking a question from out of left-field. Instead of trying to wax poetically on this unrelated element (or even worse guess), it is perfectly preferable to say “I don’t know!”.

Don’t ever be afraid to answer with “I don’t know”, as long as it is paired with “But I’d love to look into that further and let you know later”. If you truly don’t know the answer, announcing this only enhances that you’re an expert, as you’re unwilling to make things up on the fly, while showing your willingness to help others learn. It is a win-win!

Effective Presentation Tip: Saving more detailed discussions until after the larger Q&A is the best way to address more complex ideas and makes gathering contact info easier to boot.

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10. Body Language Failure

Anyone that has made a presentation since elementary school knows to make eye contact with their audience. You don’t have to stare them down so much that they will all be filing restraining orders at the end of the conference, but at least look at them now and then. Also, unless you are a bodyguard, crossing your arms while presenting is a big no-no. Crossing your arms in front of you gives the sense that you are defiant or closed off from the audience. You don’t have to go around and give everyone a hug, but at least have the appearance that you will not throw them through a window.

10 Effective Presentation Techniques (to Avoid) Recap

In summary, we all want to be entertained. The techniques below distract from your message, making it more about you. Let your content and passion shine and avoid the below.

  1. Reading the PowerPoint.
  2. Saying “Uhh” or “Umm” too much.
  3. Dressing Inappropriately for the Audience.
  4. Super Sized Presentations.
  5. Overly Technical Content.
  6. Boring the Audience.
  7. Not using a Presentation Design Agency like Cubicle Ninjas (wink, wink).
  8. Questionable Content for the Audience.
  9. Not Admitting When You Lack Information.
  10. Body Language Failures.

Looking for more effective presentation techniques?

Snag some fresh inspiration with our 35 Unique Ideas for a PowerPoint Presentation, 12 Cringe Inducing Presentation Techniques, or check out our Top 10 Presentation Tips.

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