Presentation Skills: 50 Ways to Betray the Message

Presenter in business groupEffective presentation skills are almost as important as the material you are presenting. After spending weeks crafting the perfect presentation script, slide deck and handouts, it is devastating to receive feedback that the audience failed to receive your message because your body language was disengaging. Or your hair was messy. Or there was a stain on your shirt. Anyone who has received anonymous feedback from a presentation knows how fickle an audience can be.

While you’re entitled to complain about the insignificant issues the audience focuses on, the reality is we have thousands of ways to betray our message by negatively drawing attention away from the topic at hand. Presentation skills, appearance, tone, and attitude matter just as much as the content. Don’t let any of these 50 ways to betray your message ruin your next pitch:

  1. Slumped shoulders
  2. Lack of eye contact
  3. Lack of preparation
  4. Reading the slides on the screen
  5. Reading straight from your notes
  6. Dirty shoes
  7. Not setting the vision
  8. Apologizing frequently for small issues like a cough
  9. Being too quiet
  10. Being too loud
  11. Going off on a tangent
  12. Not dressing for the role
  13. Crossing your arms across your chest
  14. Standing in one spot
  15. Speaking too quickly
  16. Speaking too slowly
  17. Using the wrong tone
  18. Lacking confidence
  19. Being a know-it-all
  20. Not engaging the audience
  21. Not reading the audience’s nonverbals
  22. Being late
  23. Not enough gesturing
  24. Too much gesturing
  25. Pitching to the wrong crowd
  26. Not allowing time for reflection
  27. Forgetting to smile
  28. Checking for questions
  29. Not using any humor
  30. Joking too much
  31. Small text
  32. Fidgeting with clothes
  33. Not showing your passion
  34. Not connecting with the audience
  35. Saying Um or Uh frequently
  36. Forgetting to breathe
  37. Take too long to get to the point
  38. Sound arrogant
  39. Not establish your credibility
  40. Sounding too scripted
  41. Sounding unrehearsed
  42. Messy hair
  43. Food in teeth
  44. Going over the allotted time
  45. Finishing too early
  46. Using industry terms/jargon
  47. Typos on slides
  48. Appearing rushed/frazzled
  49. Letting technical glitches get the best of you
  50. Using quirky slide animations