We’ve all sat through bad presentations at work.
The question is, why are so many highly intelligent, creative and talented business professionals still delivering such bad presentations?
What is a bad presentation?
Before we consider why bad presentations are still so prevalent in the workplace today, it’s worth gaining some clarity on what these look and sound like.
Here are some of the most common
– Slides filled with text and data
– Tired and ‘cheesy’ visuals
– Monotone delivery
– Data dump
– Reading slides/notes
– Ego centric rather than audience focused
– Excessive nerves
– Making your audience read
– Lack of emotional connection
– Irrelevant content
– No clarity of purpose/message
– Poorly organized information
— Lack of energy/enthusiasm
– Inauthentic delivery
– Too lengthy
– Speaking too fast, rambling/waffling
– Too many bad habits; fidgeting, swaying, “um,” “uh,” “well,” “so,” “you know,” “er,”
I’m sure you could share many others
Just before you do, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why so many of us have to endure bad presentations every day.
Here are just 12 of them
Follow the leader
Unfortunately, high impact, mindful communication and presenting, isn’t something that most of us are taught at school, college or university.
In the absence of good training and coaching, many professionals have no choice but to simply do what everyone else in the business does. If your boss or colleagues are good communication role models, you’re one of the lucky ones. That isn’t often the case and we end up simply doing exactly what they do.
No time to prepare
We still live in a world where too many people are overworked and underpaid. Preparing for a presentation takes time, focus, energy, research, creativity, organization and commitment.
Once we have crafted content which is rich, relevant and rewarding for our audience, we then have to practice delivering it.
Who has time to prepare?
We all have projects, targets, deadlines, an inbox overflowing with emails and our phones ringing incessantly.
The last thing we have time for is to prepare a presentation which respects and values our audience’s time, when we don’t have enough of our own.
The easy option
Given how busy we are, the easy option is to simply put everything we know onto a slide and read it out to our audience.
That way we can copy and paste information from reports, marketing material and documents to put them into a template we have used countless times before.
If it’s all on a slide or formulated neatly in bullet points, we don’t have to remember anything.
Trying to impress
When we are presenting at work we are painfully aware that there is a great deal at stake.
Our credibility, reputation and sense of self are all perceived as at risk, unless we impress our audience. In an attempt to do so, it makes sense to tell them how clever we are, how much we know and how hard we work.
The net result of trying to impress them, is that most of our content is focused on us as the presenter rather than our audience.
No clear purpose/message
In the absence of having a very clear purpose and message when presenting, much of what we end up sharing with our audience is often not very helpful to them.
Without a clear and compelling purpose and message, most of us will simply tell our audience everything we want them to know, rather than what they need to know to help them.
A lack of vision
Aligned to purpose is vision.
In other words, if our audience have no clear sense of how listening to and acting on our presentation will help them, they will switch off quickly.
Our audience need to know very quickly how our presentation will help to make their lives better, easier, happier, more efficient or positively different in some way.
If we can’t show them what the future will look like for them, they will forget most of what we share by the time they return to their desk.
No emotional intent
In our public speaking and presentation training workshops the most important question we ask everyone is, ‘how do you want your audience to feel’?
The most common response to this question is, ‘informed.’
Information on its own isn’t enough.
If your audience don’t feel something about the information you are sharing, it’s likely that they won’t remember it or do anything with it.
Most audiences can read the information you have to share in the comfort of their own time and space. When they give up their precious time to listen to you share it, most people want to feel something emotionally too.
Many of the training rooms we work in within organisations have big glossy, colourful posters of their company values framed on the wall.
If those values are active rather than passive, they are a joy to see and experience in their teams presentation. Unfortunately, sometimes they little more than posters.
‘Thoughtful, creative, inspirational’
‘Approach every day with curiosity’
‘Find ways to do things differently to make them better’
‘Everyone can be bold, innovative, and creative’
Unless corporate values such these are active and visible in the way teams communicate, they are nothing more than platitudes.
Are they necessary?
Far too many business presentations would be better served through the written rather than spoken word. In other words, sometimes sending the team or client a self-explanatory email would be a far better use of their time.
One of the most common reasons for a bad presentation is because they are simply unnecessary. Many organisations already have far too many meetings, many of which are far too long.
If the presenter doesn’t understand and feel the necessity and value of a presentation, it’s unlikely they will give their audience their best.
A lack of mindfulness
Have you ever attended a business meeting or presentation where the same people sit in the same seats, say the same things in the same order every single time?
Unfortunately, many businesses are operating on ‘auto-pilot’.
That means that they have been communicating, meeting and presenting in exactly the same way year after year. If that level of ‘auto-pilot’ is highly effective and mindful, that’s great; often it isn’t.
In a previous article, I wrote about mindfulness being a key part of the future of high impact public speaking and presenting.
I don’t dare
This is an issue of fear.
Over the last decade, we have worked with a great number of professionals who would love to present differently but their organization doesn’t support their aspirations.
We have had professionals agree that it would be better to stand up when presenting but are terrified of doing so because no one else does.
Many of our clients relish the idea of making an emotional connection but tell us that their boss just wants them to read the data; ‘they don’t do emotions.’
For many, the very thought of trying to be themselves is anxiety provoking when their organisation doesn’t support it.
I know but…
Everyone we work with understands how important giving a good presentation is.
Many know exactly what to do to give a good presentation.
Despite their understanding and knowledge, they still craft and deliver bad presentations.
I’ve shared some of the reasons for this in this article but I’m sure there are many more.
If you’re one of those presenters who knows exactly what to do to craft and deliver a high impact presentation but still don’t do so, please let us know why.
If you’d like to learn how to turn bad presentations into mindful presentations
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
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