You hate this time of month.
The second Friday afternoon of every month is the department meeting.
A time for the useless people among your team to grandstand and brown nose.
A time for the people who actually work to be frustrated that their time is being wasted.
You are more irritated than usual to find out that two of your more getting-things-done incapable colleagues are doing presentations to update everyone on a project they have contributed nothing to.
As an extra bonus, their lack of ability in the taking-ownership and task-completion stakes are only bettered by their lack of presentation skills and self awareness.
Here are 21 things your colleagues do in presentations that you better not copy.
1. They read their slides
It’s a skill they mastered in childhood and they still won’t let it go.
“Look at this!… I can read! I can read!”
Yes, so can we all, you think.
Unfortunately you can also tell the time, and a quick glance at your watch informs you that you’ve got another twenty minutes of kindergarten story time to go.
2. They talk to the slides
It’s hard to read with your eyes closed, right?
So how else do you expect the presenter to read their slides and look at the audience at the same time?
The ray of light for you is the presenter can’t see you yawning or playing Candy Crush.
3. They look at the ceiling and the floor
You’re finally attending a presentation with no slides.
Your joy quickly turns to disappointment as you realize the presenter can’t remember his lines and spends all his time gazing up at the ceiling saying, “Ummm.”
You look at your watch and yearn for bullet points and wacky animations.
4. They gesture like a Thunderbird puppet
As if memorizing the script word-for-word wasn’t bad enough, they’ve practiced the gestures to go along with each word.
If you’ve ever been frustrated by tourists in a foreign country who think their wait staff will get it if they just talk louder, wait to you see the practiced gestures of a rollerblading giraffe.
5. They cover their body
No matter how hard they try they just can’t seem wrap their arms around their bodies enough to make themselves invisible.
Too bad, invisibility might have improved the delivery.
6. They recite lines
They think being up all last night memorizing their lines is going to arm them with a stellar performance.
7. They point with the laser
You know what’s worse than a presenter reading the slides to you?
A presenter reading the slides while underlining what they’re reading with a red laser.
First of all they irritate you by acting as the only literate person in the room.
Second, they reinforce their opinion of your years of wasted time staring at books you can’t read, by showing you explicitly which line they are reading.
8. They blind with the laser
The one thing more annoying than the presenter using the laser as if you’re a dumbass is the presenter who constantly has the laser on.
As the presenter talks, the audience dodges rogue lasers like cast members in a Star Wars movie.
9. They use animations
There’s nothing that will help you absorb the presentation content better than an acrobatic Christmas tree that crashes into a pile of serif fonts and morphs into a chart displaying a downward trend in sales figures.
Someone just discovered how to create animations in PowerPoint, right?
10. They avoid animations
No animation is just as bad as gratuitous use of animation.
Slides devoid of whitespace, which cause the audience to furiously search for the point are just as bad (perhaps worse) than flying Christmas trees.
11. They limit slides
Putting an limit on the number of slides shows they are more concerned with rules than building a slide deck which supports what they will say.
12. They stand to the side
The wallflower presenter.
They’re job is to support the slides by occasionally reading a bullet point to you and flicking the laser round about.
13. They don’t move
Excess movement is weird.
But standing stiff as a surfboard is also weird.
No one wants to see a colleague dancing during their presentation, neither do they want to see them waiting for the next good wave.
14. They worry about themselves
Sleepy McBoring’s presentation is crap for many reasons, but the number one reason is this:
He’s focused entirely on himself and zero on the audience.
“What will people think of me?”
“If I just read the screen I won’t have to think about everyone.”
Imagine how exciting they are to talk to in social situations.
15. They don’t control their own slides
“Next slide please.”
“Oh, that’s not the one, I had an extra animation there. Can you hit the space again please.”
No one wants to listen to this.
People are busy and have better things to do with their time.
Control your own slides or just cut them completely.
16. Their goal is to get this over and done with
If you’re having a conversation with someone whose goal is to end the conversation, how well does it go?
17. They play “Cat on a hot tin roof”
The only thing weirder looking than a surfboard imitator is a surfboard imitator constantly moving from foot to foot.
18. Their voice trails into the distance
The presenter who sounds like they are running away from the audience appears unsure of their material.
The presenter who sounds unsure of their material doesn’t get listened to.
19. They try to be funny
Trying to add humor into a presentation is a risky tactic.
Humor is tough.
What a presenter thinks might be funny could die when it’s delivered.
If it dies the presenter makes their job 100 times harder.
There’s a reason comedians test and refine their material live before going on tour.
20. They fall in love with one person
One person gives the presenter encouraging visual feedback at the outset of the presentation and they lock onto them for the duration.
First, that person was just empathizing with the presenter.
Second, the remainder of the audience is now excluded from the presenter’s romantic discussion with the empath in the front row.
21. Their closing is dramatically more boring than their opening
Like the runner who places last in the marathon, the crappy presenter expends all their energy in the first few minutes and has nothing left at the end.
When a presentation opens with a bang it needs to end with one too.
It’s great to have a killer opening, but the presenter then needs to hold on to the audience throughout.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below.