The 10 Worst Presentation Habits

bad-presentationDo you have any bad presentation habits? We all know bad presenters when we see them. Carmine Gallo’sthe 10 Worst Presentation Habits,” is an excellent resource on public speaking. After reading his ten bad habits, I realized that in graduate school, I committed at least four of them during my final presentation. I certainly wasn’t as polished as I should have been back then, but looking back, it was just a matter of inexperience in giving presentations. Do you want to avoid bad presentations?

The 10 Worst Presentation Habits

Check out Business Week’s slide show that summarizes of Gallo’s list of the 10 worst presentation habits:

“As a communications coach for some of America’s most admired companies, I work with business professionals who want to engage their listeners — whether they are addressing employees, customers or colleagues; whether they are speaking to an audience of one or one thousand.

In my book, 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators, I identify bad presentation habits that impose barriers between speakers and their listeners. Here are the worst habits and how to overcome them.”

Below are Gallo’s bad habits verbatim:

  1. Reading from notes: review your material to the point where you have so completely absorbed the material, you can deliver it without notes.
  2. Avoiding eye contact: maintain eye contact with your listeners at least 90% of the time. It’s appropriate to glance at your notes or slides from time to time, but only for a few seconds and only as a reminder of where to go next. You are speaking for the benefit of your listeners. Speak to them, not the slides.
  3. Dressing Down: find a clothing store and salesperson whose recommendations you trust. Always dress appropriately for the culture, but a little better than everyone else.
  4. Fidgeting, jiggling, and swaying: the solution is simple. Don’t fidget, jiggle or sway! Videotape your presentations or rehearsals from time to time to catch your flaws.
  5. Failure to rehearse: take a cue from Cisco CEO John Chambers. He spends hours rehearsing every component of his presentations, from the material to the flow of slides to when and where he’s going to walk among the audience. It’s preparation to the extreme, but it works.
  6. Standing at attention: move, walk, use hand gestures. Great speakers are animated in voice and body.
  7. Reciting bullet points: don’t write too many words on the slide. A good rule of thumb is no more than four words across and six lines down. For slides with more content, do not recite the slide word for word. Include a story, anecdote, example to add color to the content. Trust that your audience can read the slide for themselves.
  8. Speaking too long: edit everything you say. Do you spend five minutes saying something that you could otherwise say in 30 seconds? What can you cut out? Be thorough, yet concise in all manners of communication, including phone conversations, emails and formal presentations.
  9. Failing to excite: tell your listeners why they should be excited about your content. Give your audience a reason to care.
  10. Ending with an inspiration deficit: go ahead and summarize what you just said in the presentation, but leave your audience with one key thought — something they didn’t know that makes their jaws drop in collective awe.

Sounds simple. Right? I wish I would have researched presentation skills, prior to my last presentation in my UW MHA program. I wasn’t horrible, but I relied on my natural skills to get me through it.

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