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100 Ways to Kill Your PPT Presentation

So, for all you executives getting ready to present, here are 100 of the top mistakes I've seen over the years

A CEO once asked me, "As an executive coach, what are the top mistakes you've seen when business leaders give a presentation"? He was expecting just a few insights, I'm sure. But once I got thinking about all the mess-ups I'd seen, I just could not stop writing them down. What started as a Letterman "Top Ten List" took on a life of its own.

So, for all you executives getting ready to present, here are 100 of the top mistakes I've seen over the year

100 Ways to Bore Your Audience

  1. Don't have a story
  2. Show lots and lots of slides
  3. Don't have clear messages
  4. Have plenty of bullets and lists
  5. Don't break your deck into sections or "chapters"
  6. Have 100 disconnected slides
  7. Don't have an introduction that "wows" people
  8. Read the slide word for word
  9. To make a point read the slide twice
  10. Don't close with a strong and memorable ending
  11. Don't use examples
  12. Make sure you use at least 10 bullets per slide
  13. Change colors on each slide
  14. Use titles that are just boring facts
  15. Make sure your titles are long enough to go to two lines
  16. Make excuses for why the slides don't look that great
  17. Keep turning to look at the slides and not the audience
  18. Turn your whole back to the audience when looking at a slide
  19. Never look the audience in the eye
  20. Never, ever practice the presentation
  21. Actually go up and touch the slide on the big screen
  22. Use an annoying laser pen
  23. Make crazy little circles with your laser pen
  24. Make zig-zags with your laser pen
  25. Have no gestures, just stand there with arms dangling down
  26. Or, wave your arms around like Marcel Marceau
  27. Or don't move at all, or
  28. Pace like a lion in a cage
  29. Be sure to walk or stand in front of the screen (it's especially good if the words display on your face)
  30. Only stay on one side of the stage
  31. Talk to just the left side of the room
  32. Talk to just the right side of the room
  33. Use humor knowing you can't tell a joke
  34. Don't modulate your voice
  35. Don't emphasize any words
  36. Have no transitions from slide to slide
  37. Don't connect any of the ideas from any slides
  38. Put a quote on screen and read it word for word
  39. Talk very fast
  40. Talk very slow
  41. Walk with your hands in your pant pockets
  42. Fold your arms
  43. Never sound passionate or interested in your own material
  44. Don't ask any questions
  45. Never engage the audience
  46. Don't use stories or anecdotes
  47. Hold onto a podium or dais
  48. Hide behind the podium
  49. Memorize your slides and sound like a robot
  50. Never use images or pictures on your slides, just lots of text
  51. Make the text so small people in the back can't see it
  52. Make an excuse about small text, "I know you can't read this…"
  53. Use lots and lots of charts and graphs
  54. Put two or three charts on one slide
  55. Have at least a dozen data points on a graph
  56. Use different fonts
  57. Never proofread your slides, have spelling and grammar errors
  58. Talk about something else that is not on the slide
  59. Ramble and get off your topic
  60. For a 1-hour preso, have 60 slides
  61. For a 30-minute preso, have 30 slides
  62. For a 15-minute preso, have 15 slides
  63. Be sure to insult the audience's intelligence
  64. Use lots of outdated facts and figures
  65. Use lots of animations, especially twirls, fly-ins and spinning words
  66. Add cheesy annoying sounds to your fly-ins and spins
  67. Look over the heads of the audience
  68. Don't ask rhetorical questions
  69. Never have an agenda
  70. Keep referring to "him" and "he," especially if females are in the audience
  71. Use the PPT wizard; never vary the slide style or make your own template
  72. As you describe ideas on a slide, jump around, don't order your thoughts
  73. Use really small images that don't enlarge well
  74. Make sure the images are of the poorest quality
  75. Use the images your drunk brother-in-law took from his vacation
  76. Never buy classy stock photos
  77. Be sure your slides don't reinforce your words
  78. Use as many builds as you can pack in
  79. Make sure the transition builds are different for each slide
  80. Chit chat and say thank you to 20 people before you begin to speak
  81. Make sure your slides are really crowded
  82. Never tell the audience how long you will speaking
  83. Skip over ideas and tell people you're running late
  84. Point to a slide with your middle finger
  85. Point at the audience with any finger
  86. Use lots and lots of flash animation
  87. Don't have a clear purpose
  88. Talk a lot about you and your company and never talk about the audience or their needs
  89. Use a screen shot of a web page so no one can read it
  90. Insert poorly shot videos
  91. Insert videos with muddled sound
  92. Never tell listeners what your presentation is about
  93. Always choose dark text on a dark slide background or
  94. Light text on a light background
  95. Use lots of word art and slanted text
  96. Use child-like clip art and lots and lots of cartoons
  97. Never repeat the agenda so people can follow your ideas
  98. Be more concerned about your data than telling a good story
  99. Always go over, never under you allotted time
  100. Never ever be conversational—just drone on and on

Moral for presenters: Just get up there and have a compelling and relevant conversation, just you, the audience, and your passion, and leave the deck at home.

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More Stories By Core Ideas

Loraine Antrim is co-founder of Core Ideas Communication, a communications consulting agency focused on presentation development and media training for C-suite executives. Core Ideas enables executives to package and communicate relevant and compelling messages in their presentations and interviews. Loraine's expertise is killing butterflies. You know, butterflies: the feeling in your stomach before you have to present or speak in public. Loraine works with executives to create a powerful story, memorable messages and an authentic delivery style. Confidence kicks in, and butterflies scatter. Nice work killing butterflies! You can contact Loraine at: manager at