Have you developed these bad presentation skills?

3 minute read

We’re always telling you what to do: how to craft your narrative, how to design your slides, how to deliver your presentation and so on. So, we thought we’d mix it up a bit.

In this blog, we’re not going to tell you what to do. We’re going to tell you what not to do. We’ve seen hundreds (thousands actually) of presentations over the years, and we’ve seen a lot of bad ones, so we’re well placed to spot when someone has developed some seriously bad presentation skills.

Skill can be defined as ‘the ability to do something well’, so having ‘bad skills’ is somewhat of an oxymoron. But we’ll gloss over that.

Have you acquired these bad presentation skills? If so, stop it. Stop it right now.


Bad skill 1: Reading off your slides

Your slides are there to support what you’re saying. If you’re just going to read off your slides what’s the point in you even being there? Just email your slides to the attendees and save everyone the time. Which leads me on to…


Bad skill 2: Putting too much text on your slides

Use your slides to display key points only. Put most of what you’re going to say into your speaker notes. People can either read or listen; they can’t do both. So if they’re reading the two hundred words you’ve crammed onto your slides, they aint listenin’ to ya. Too much text on your slides will also invariably lead to your font being too small. It needs to big enough so those at the back of the room can still read it.


Bad skill 3: Clashing your colours

If you don’t know which colours compliment one another, then cheat. Don’t choose random colours and hope for the best. Seriously, it hurts our eyes. If your company has a colour palette, then use that when creating your slides. If not (or you’re an individual) then choose a premade colour palette. That way, all the colour theory has already been worked out for you and you can’t (really shouldn’t) go wrong. Colorpalettes.net is one of our favourites.

color palettes


Bad skill 4: Winging it

I’m going to let you in on a secret here. The vast vast majority of the so-called ‘naturals’ – people who can just own a room and keep everyone in the palm of their hands while they are speaking – aren’t naturals at all.

They worked really hard and they practiced. A lot.

You’re not going to become a ‘natural’ overnight, but if you’re well rehearsed, your presentation will be better. It really is as simple as that. Practice as much as you can, on your own, in front of your co-workers, or in front of your family if they’ll let you.

Video it if you can. This way you’ll see what your audience see. Gesticulations and body language are important, so rehearse them as well as your speech. Practice makes…well not perfect, but certainly a lot better.


Bad skill 5: Overdoing the bullets

If you have to use bullet points, then only do so for highlighting key points. If you’re going to use them for every line of text on every slide, what’s the point in having them at all? (That’s rhetorical, but you got that).


Bad skill 6: Too many pictures

We all like pictures. Pictures say a thousand words so they say, but don’t go overboard. Stick to one image per slide. N.B. that doesn’t necessarily mean one image on every slide.  Decks flow better when you mix the visuals up a bit.


Bad skill 7: Overloading on data

One sure fire way to turn your audience off is to show them lots of complex charts. Your audience won’t be able to digest something like this and they will be trying to figure it out whilst you’re talking.

Overloading on data

Pick out key figures. Only show your audience the impressive, important stuff.

Key Data


Bad skill 8: Terrible transitions

Transitions are important. They help your content flow. But please don’t use them all. More often than not you’ll, only need to use one transition applied consistently throughout your slide deck. You can read about how to choose the right transitions here. One final thing though: never select ‘random’. A different transition applied to every slide of your presentation will just look bad. Simple as that.


Work Can wait

Put off writing that email just a little longer.
Send your incoming calls to voicemail.
Put your feet up, grab a brew and explore more presentation
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