Eight ways to ruin a presentation

Many speakers dream of the chance to give a TED talk, standing in front of an audience of 1400, following in the footsteps of such acclaimed performers as Sir Ken Robinson and Jill Bolte Taylor.

Chris Anderson, the CEO of TED, says he thinks of a successful talk as a little miracle. “People see the world differently afterward.”

And to ensure the talks are successful, especially for the new entrants to the TED stable, Chris Anderson (pictured) has developed a coaching framework for inexperienced presenters that can take between six and nine months from initial commitment to final delivery.

So the folks at TED take speaking seriously. But they also have a sense of humour. They’ve come up with a list they call ‘Ten Ways to Ruin a Presentation.’

Here’s our take on their list:

  1. Take a really long time at the beginning of your presentation to explain what your talk is about. Make no effort to get the audience sitting forward in their seats. Just drone on as you put up an agenda slide with at least 10 points on it. 
  2. Forget about how energized you are when you talk with friends. Slow your delivery down to a funereal pace and – if you can – deepen your voice in your search for credibility. 
  3. Talk at length about your job title, your role and your experience. Make sure everyone in the room knows how important you are. 
  4. Create the busiest slides you possibly can. Pack each slide with bullet points, get as much text on the slides as possible, and go crazy with different fonts and animations. 
  5. Use a lot of technical jargon and multi-syllabic words to make yourself sound smart. 
  6. Don’t tell stories. They take up too much time. Stick with a relentless diet of information, all of which is duplicated by the text on your slides. 
  7. Wing-it. Don’t bother rehearsing, and don’t worry about how long your presentation runs. The audience won’t mind if you got over your time, because you are so good. 
  8. Avoid eye contact with the audience. Keep your head down so you can read your script in your overly-slow, deeper-than-usual voice.

On a more positive note, Chris Anderson wrote a great article called How to Give a Killer Presentation. You can read it here.