Thursday, 2 April 2009

Ten Cardinal Sins of Presenters

Ten cardinal sins that presenters make (using Power Point, of course)

1. Spend 95% of the preparation time on chart making and 5% on what you are actually going to say

A whole battalion of underlings works on the charts. Hours and hours spent on revising and re revising them. A lot less time on what the presenter is actually going to say. Charts are an aid to speaking and not the other way around. How many times have I heard "now what are we saying in this chart" !

2. Have 74 charts for a 15 mts presentation

This is a universal truth - there will always be way more charts than what can be covered sensibly in the allotted time.

3. Spend 75% of your allotted time on Charts 1-4 and then desperately run through the balance 26 charts

Haven't you noticed how slowly the charts roll on in the fist 75% of the session and how they move at lightning speed in the last few minutes

4. Flip charts back and forth to check what is coming next

Some underling has put the charts together. You haven't spent enough time familiarising it. You don't know what's coming next. So you flip forward and backward just to see what's next. Worse still you gaze at your chart, after it has come on, to decipher what to say.

5. Recycle charts from old presentations

Everybody does this. But other than factual numbers and the like, any recycling makes sure the chart is not exactly in line with what you are trying to convey. After all no two presentations are exactly alike. And worse, there is the risk of the recycled chart carrying a big goof - for example the wrong name of the company !

6. Have a zillion things on your chart, preferably in a font size that can’t be read.

Why is it that consultants' charts are unreadable - after all aren't they supposed to be experts at presenting ; isn't that a key tool of their trade ? One CEO of a leading consultant said in a presentation that the "busy" chart was to give all the info for the listener to read later. Horseshit. Nobody reads the slides later. If your chart is unreadable; you've just lost the audience.

7. When asked a question, rummage through your chart pack saying “I have a chart on this”

Everybody has "backup charts" to be pulled out if a question is asked. Why ? Just answer the question. Nothing irritates the audience than the presenter rummaging through his deck to find the right chart.

8. Circulate hard copies of your charts before you start

Don't do it. Its a walking invitation for the listener to be flipping ahead to see your last chart. If you must distribute hard copies, do so after you have finished. Even this is rarely required. I have seldom seen anybody avidly devouring a deck post a presentation. Your nice glossy will simply lie in a cupboard for 4 years and then be shredded.

9. Have typos on your charts and then draw attention to them

There is always a typo or a goof. Mostly because you have been re revising it for the nth time and actually made some changes 60 seconds before you went on air. There is a golden law - if there is a typo, however small, the listener will get it. And you can then compound the error by drawing attention to it and "apologising" with a nervous giggle.

10. Stand at the exact opposite end of the room to where the chart is projected

This is to ensure that everybody gets a crick in the neck by swiveling from the chart to you. Being sensible people, they'll simply ignore you and stare blankly at the chart.

This is my own caricature of a "presenter from hell". Tomorrow its ten cardinal sins of listeners.

6 comments:

  1. Three points from my side

    Bullet points - people try to cramp everything on a single slide with the help of bullet points. Death by bullets...

    Standing between audience and screen

    And missing sense of humor :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post Ramesh.Having presented several topics, in my early years I have faced the ramifications of "3" several times, not with charts but with Powerpoint slides (though I did not have a Thank You slide ..lol!!). I feel I have improved a lot.I think all your points save 8 and 10 also apply to Webinars. And here is my observation.Often times - the presenter's can digress very easily!

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  3. Kiwibloke2/4/09

    Nice one Ramesh. Possibly add on one more cardinal sin of reading out exactly what is on the slide, assuming that the audience is a bunch of illiterate morons!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Adesh - Oh Yes death by bullet points. sounds very familiar

    Blogueur - Thanks. The presenter who rambles on and on must surely rank right up there.

    All Black - Ha Ha - yes if there are 1000 words on the slide and he wants to read every one of them, it can be excruciating.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got 5 on 10 - yay!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Aashish - Ha Ha you are doing great. Most people are 10 out of 10 at some point in their professional lives

    ReplyDelete

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