Don’t Slay Your Audience – 5 Presentation Blunders You Must Never Make

By on September 4, 2013

Fotolia_42983452_XSSharpen your presentation skills and get brilliant audience feedback every time by obeying these five golden rules:

1.         Never try to fool your audience

Audiences are generally very perceptive and know when the speaker is congruent and ‘walks the talk’.

They also realize when a presenter is simply delivering a book report; that they’re just covering the top-level points of the topic presented.

When you’re the keynote speaker, the audience should be able to sense you’re an expert in that particular niche or topic.

2.         Never read directly from your notes

Your audiences want to experience what’s in your heart and in your mind rather than your monotonous notes.

Using notes to guide you through the important points is fine, but if you’re reading from a script, you may as well hire a professional actor who is probably more adept at bringing a script to life. Know your material and tailor delivery so your audience react to it along the way. Feed them the information they’re hungry for.

3.         Never disclose insider stories

Mentioning some event or anecdote about someone that most of your audience knows nothing about will simply alienate them.

Whilst you might strike a chord with a select few, the majority of your audience will be left in the dark, making them feel as though they’re not among the chosen few. Much better to use this brief moment of their time to have a more intimate, inside dialogue which will definitely capture their attention more positively.

4.         Never make a joke at your audience’s expense

Humor is a wonderful communication tool, provided you’re funny. Even if you’re gifted in this respect, still be careful when and how you use it. Also remain mindful not to alienate members of your audience whose native language is not identical to your own.

Stories about people (other than your audience) and events, if done in good taste, can set the tone for a positive learning environment. However if you aim your humor directly at your audience, you’ll end up establishing a ‘me versus you’ atmosphere that may interfere with the message you’re trying to get across.

Attacking an audience at any level, even if you’re not intentionally being offensive, will typically make them defensive and distrustful of you.

5.         Never go over your allocated time

Your mission is to deliver the material that was promised and to do it within the expected time frame.

If no time frame is announced, tell the audience up front how much of their time you’ll take. For example, “We’re going to be together for the next 30 minutes and during this brief time ……….”.


Maybe you’ve had an experience (good or bad) that you’d like to share here for the benefit of others and if so, it would be great if you could post a comment below.

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