“Worse than underwhelming”: Why do smart people keep giving terrible presentations?


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Enough. I am so over smart people giving sh!tty presentations. 

What do I mean?

Talking heads, mainly. Those who think reading a densely packed script while we stare up your nostrils in a badly lit room will hold our attention and help us engage with your ideas.

It’s worse than underwhelming. It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing.

And in the days of digital, it’s unprofessional and inexcusable.

You are there because you are clever. We want to hear from you and about you.

But goodness, you make it hard.

What to do differently in your presentations? 

Some things that come to mind:

  • Bring an energy that signals you want to be there. You have to lift your natural energy to compensate for the flattening effects of digital; 
  • Don’t read slabs of text. What works in written form doesn’t work the same when spoken. It’s like we’re listening to an essay;
  • You are competing with your audience’s environment — that means you need to use visual cues to keep them interested in what’s happening on screen. Gestures, props, graphics and yes, even the occasional slide;
  • When creating content, keep asking yourself, “so what? Why is this important to know?”; and
  • Keep it simple. People tend only to remember the start, what surprises them most and how you’ve made them feel.  

Most of all, don’t make the mistake of thinking a presentation is what you say. It’s really not about the content you’ve sweated over to get ready for us. It’s you. It’s how you engage with us. 

Don’t waste your talent and my time. You are better than that.

This article was first published on LinkedIn


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Chris Webber
Chris Webber
5 months ago

Great article that really resonated with me. So many smart people in my organisation that just cannot convey their thoughts remotely in a way that is received by an audience.