5 Things That Turn People Off Your Presentation

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My name is Amy, and I am a freelance presentation designer, working in PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote. My passion is creating branded presentations that represent you as a trusted professional in your industry, strengthen your brand in the marketplace, and engage your audience with an elevated experience that will convert and make them remember you for all the right reasons.

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Take a moment to think about a poor presentation you’ve been subjected to. Was it during a company meeting with slides packed with so much text you could barely make any of it out? Or was it at school with a speaker that read the contents of each slide, word-for-word, without looking up from their computer screen or note cards the entire time? We’ve all sat through dull presentations where our minds wandered to everything but the presentation itself. Presenting is a difficult task that requires a lot of preparation, thought, and practice. If you’re looking to improve your presentation skills, I’ve got some great tips for what to avoid and what to include to keep your audience immersed and attentive during your next presentation.

5 Things NOT to do During Your Presentation and How to Fix Them…

1. Make Your Slides Boring

Almost everyone in your audience has likely seen every basic template in PowerPoint used before. These templates are convenient for quick projects, but often lack visual interest, a connection to your business, or include interesting ways to present your information. The easiest and most effective way to bump up the visual appeal of your next presentation deck is by booking a Freelance Presentation Designer.

Apart from the text content on your slides, consider how your images and graphics look alongside the presented information. Are these images relevant to your presentation, or are they to fill blank space? Do they elevate your brand or make your presentation look amateur? Do they drive your key points home, or do they distract from your message? Additional pictures and graphics should support the central theme of your presentation, visualize the core message of the slide they appear on, and make your slides visually appealing.

Lastly, don’t make a presentation completely devoid of pictures or graphics. Visual elements like these are a great way to provide context to a topic and can be helpful for members of your audience who require visual aids. Leaving images and graphics out of your presentation means that at best, your audience will be reading your content while you speak instead of listening to what you’re talking about and likely miss out on your most important bits of information. It also makes your slides exceptionally dull and, ultimately, completely forgettable.

2. Reading Directly Off Your Slides

We’ve all seen it before. The presenter’s eyes are glued to the screen, reading the same thing everyone in the room has already read. It’s important to remember that the audience can read the slide faster than you can read it aloud. Instead, use your slides to list your key talking points or summarize the critical topics on the slide, but use your voice to expand on relevant details for each key point. As soon as your audience realizes your slides are the notes to your presentation and to get the details, they’ll need to listen to your voice, they’ll stay more engaged with the total experience.

This method not only cuts down on the text in your slides, so you can really use that real estate to visually drive your point home, but it also allows you to engage verbally with your audience, and this is the best way to avoid your audience losing interest.

One of the main reasons presenters read their slides is because they’re nervous to speak in front of an audience. If this is you, here’s a great article with tips on making an engaging presentation without relying on the text in your slides.

3. No engagement

There is a difference between lecturing to your audience versus presenting to your audience. A presentation shares information and can also be used to gather audience questions and feedback and includes them throughout the process. Lecturing only shares information. An engaging presentation makes the audience want to pay attention and learn what the speaker has to say. My favorite engagement technique is to implement discussion questions throughout the presentation to hear from your audience or let them share with others. I have a blog here about easy ways to capture and retain your audience’s attention throughout your presentation.  

4. TMI

Excellent presentations use a balance of facts and emotion to support the presented information. Sparing use of well-timed facts, statistics, and numbers can be an amazing way to drive your core information home. However, sharing too many data points can cause your audience to check out due to overwhelm and lead to a dry and lifeless presentation that leaves your audience wondering how this applies to them. If you use quantitative data, either use it sparingly or be sure to explain why these numbers and figures are meaningful and how they apply to the audience. (Side note: Of course, certain decks require the inclusion of a lot of this type of data. In this case, include the necessary data on your slides, discuss the most important parts, let your audience ask lots of questions, and let them know you will provide them with a copy of the deck after the presentation. That way, they aren’t worried about forgetting important information while you’re presenting.)

On the flip side, a presentation completely reliant on emotions and lacking in any data points can lead to your audience asking if there’s any importance or substance to what you’re sharing. However, relevant humor, personal anecdotes, journeys, and stories are very effective ways of drawing your audience in and entertaining them. Using these elements at key points to connect with your audience can make your presentation very memorable, relatable, and engaging. The right facts-to-emotion ratio will depend on the type of presentation you’re delivering, but the main takeaway here is to have a balance between facts and feelings.

5. Animation Overload

Just as an overload of superfluous images and graphics detract from rather than adds to your presentation, you also don’t want too many animations. When used wisely, animations are great for engaging your audience or visually showing how something would work. But too many animations or animations that have nothing to do with the content and are just there for animation’s sake are a distraction from your presentation. It’s best to use animations sparingly and illustrate a point in the information you’re sharing. They can also be used to set the tone for a deck. For instance, a television network would potentially use subtle animations in their slide transitions to add motion to an otherwise static deck, emulating a little bit of the idea of the motion in television format. This would be a very on-brand use that would work well in some cases.

However, just like every other feature that can lead to engagement, there needs to be a balance between animations and static content so your audience is not overwhelmed with constant motion. If you want to dive deeper into this topic, check out my in-depth guide to the pros and cons of using animations in presentations here.

Presenting is one of the most popular ways to deliver information, and there are plenty of ways to do it right and wrong. As with most things related to visual communication, there are no truly hard and fast rules about giving a slide-based presentation. However, being aware of the benefits and pitfalls related to various elements of a presentation and how they affect your audience will help you wisely consider what and how to implement these tools when planning your presentation and slide deck.

Of course, in many cases, tinkering with these ideas is simply going to take too much time and effort to sort out. Ultimately, without a good amount of experience, it’s likely going to lead to lackluster results. If you want an impressive slide deck without the hassle of making it yourself or covering the cost of your team spending their time on work well outside of their real value to your business, feel free to contact me today to book your project and unlock your presentation potential.