Bad Public Speaking: Sure Fire Tips to Kill Your Presentation
July 5, 2012 by Bill Rosenthal

In our performance improvement training classes we often use examples of good or bad presentations that we’ve witnessed or heard about in order to illustrate a particular point. Today we’d like to use some real-life examples of how not to deliver a presentation. (The names have been changed to protect these unenlightened presenters!)

Reading Roger

Roger is an engineer for Acme Co., a technical manufacturer. Like most of Acme’s engineers, Roger rose through the ranks because of his expertise, but never received any training in public speaking. At Roger’s first presentation, given at a large exhibition, he brought printed copies of his written presentation. He proceeded to hand them out to the audience, after which Roger (you guessed it) read his entire speech.

Needless to say, by the time he finished, Roger was reading only to the janitor and several crickets.

PowerPoint Polly

Polly is a senior business analyst for Acme Co’s rival, Widget Inc. Not wanting to rely on a script, Polly’s strategy is but every word on her PowerPoint slides. Each slide is densely packed with charts, graphs, and text, text, text. Polly doesn’t understand why her thorough slide deck gets less attention than her audience’s smart phones.

And-Another-Thing Addie

Addie is a CEO who knows her industry inside and out. Addie’s favorite part of giving presentations is the Q &A, because she can talk and talk (and talk) about all she knows, which surely must impress her audience. Addie views every question as an opportunity to educate with history, technical details and personal anecdotes. The problem is that she’s noticed her employees rarely ask questions at company meetings anymore…

Do any of these examples sound like you, or one of your colleagues or staff? They may not know how poorly they come across in presentations, or don’t know what to do about it.

Communispond recommends “in-the-moment coaching”. This is where the instructor explains and demonstrates desired behavior and then videotapes each trainee as they emulate that behavior. The instructor views the tape and provides feedback, after which the trainee views their tape privately. The trainee is taped again and again, and over the course of the two-day program can see him or herself improve as the right behaviors and communications techniques are learned and reinforced. 

Uncomfortable for the trainee? Yes. Effective? Very! After completing the training executives acquire a new level of confidence, can organize their material better and learn specific presentation skills to harness their nerves and energy.

Our next blog post will focus on ways to help our troubled team of presenters.

If you or anyone on your team identifies with Roger, Polly or Addie, Communispond recommends our Executive Presentation Skills program.

>>Learn more. Read about our Executive Presentation Skills program