Be the Best Presenter – Avoid These Pet Peeves…

5 Presenter Pet Peeves

You know who you are! I deliver a LOT of presentations and I have a little list running in my head as soon as I arrive when I’m on the other side as a PARTICIPANT, and many times, as I tick down the list, my pet peeves soon,  ALL start to show up. If you do a lot of presentations, take heed.

Doing presentations is a wonderful way to show your skill, area of expertise and engage others on a chosen topic. It’s a small way to meet new readers but I love putting together content that people enjoy and I probably just love talking at length about things I’m knowledgeable about. As I observe others, this is where that over-analytical part comes in and while a nuisance at times, I’m hoping this particular time it will help you be, at your next event or workshop, a truly, prepared and stellar presenter.

Allow me to make ONE DISCLAIMER: What I’m about to say below will be interpreted one of two ways, 1. You will be nodding your head and saying “Amen” or 2. You’ll wag your finger at me in disdain, saying “How Dare You!” It’s just an article that’s meant to be A. Helpful B. Funny. So try, just TRY to go with it.

1. No Handouts! WTFuss, Man? I can tell immediately that you don’t have a single handout and shame on you. I don’t care if it’s just the bare minimum talking points, or god forbid, a one pager. It’s something and helps many people focus and remember your important points.
Redeem Yourself: If you have a powerpoint, offer to share it. Put it on SlideShare, Googledocs, Dropbox, other similar site that lets people access it. It’s free!

2. Fill in the blank handouts do NOT work – You talk a mile a minute, how am I supposed to fill in the blank? I return home with an incomplete three pages (because all those blanks take up a lot of space) and it’s not useful to me and I’m annoyed. If you can say a sentence the exact same way that is on the paper, well you must have a really good memory. Many times the way something is worded in your presentation IS NOT how you’re going to say it, live. Personal Note: I think fill in the blanks is a bit elementary.
Redeem Yourself: Provide the real version either on a place where people can get access to it later (relatively easy) [see #1 above) or have people pass around a sign in sheet to be sent the information after the fact. Still kind of late but it shows you’re open and accessible. You could also, at the end of the presentation, go through the entire handout and mention the missing words so people can write them down. You could also simply enlarge (or embolden) the sentence on the slide so they stand out.

3. You allow someone to hog the time with their personal story and they are expecting you to solve their entire issue, plus tell them the meaning of life, in the time allotted. For one, you don’t have that much time (and I’m still trying to fill in my blanks, mind you). For two, you have to work on exit strategies – You could say something like, “That’s a great point, and I might have an idea or two I can offer you, I will try to do that offline. Thanks for sharing.” You start talking and move on. You DO NOT stand there like a deer caught in the headlights waiting for their protest/rebuttal. LOL By the by, the way in which I phrased the above, a. acknowledged their issue and b. did a bit of smoke and mirrors (made it appear that there might be some extra “after school” nuggets that you could impart if they would just hold their tongue a little bit longer.
Redeem Yourself: Work on polite but firm exit strategies beforehand. I know you’re much too nice to “shut anyone down” but sometimes the other people present, are sitting there fuming (they shouldn’t I know, patience is a virtue…many people need to work on) but they do. You can handle one person or anger the 29 others in the room. Also remember, that SOME people have an agenda SOMETIMES before they go from place to place, looking for one person after another to solve their issue. This is a blog topic all by itself but I digress.

4. You use introductions of EVERYONE (and you have 30 people plus) to fill the time and in case you run out of material. For some larger groups, there is no possible way everyone will be brief with their intros. You will have to omit this and be okay with doing so.

Redeem Yourself: Offer a short break for chatter OR at the end of your talk, say, “I don’t want anyone to leave without introducing themselves to three people and telling them what you write about (I’m using a writer’s workshop/conference example) but fill in the blank (uh, just this one time, LOL) for whatever it is you want people to do in order to put themselves out there and foster networking with one another. I do this and even encourage people, in writer events, that may be looking to establish a new critique group or accountability partner.

5. You talk so long, ran over and you fail to be mindful of the time and now there’s no time for Q n A. ALWAYS leave time for Q n A. Even if you have a lot of content to cover, Q n A is still very important. Honestly, Q n A means you didn’t just come to download information and leave but you came to have a conversation, it’s a give and take.

Redeem Yourself: Two ways: 1. Offer your contact information to everyone present, make it one of your slides and if you’re not dashing off to your next engagement, offer to stay after to chat. You should do this anyway BUT I totally understand more popular authors/famous speakers/presenters that are to a point where they just don’t share their contact information other than a more general Info@…., it’s your prerogative, all good. You could take the questions and then write an FAQ for your website/blog or Twitter, after the fact. That would also be a great marketing tactic that will drive some additional people to your social media or encourage them to sign up for your fabulous newsletter.  2. Bring index cards and have people write out their questions. Ask a volunteer to gather them all or have them passed to the front quickly and breeze through them (answering succinctly and swiftly) rather than calling on each person individually.

Pet Peeve Bonus

Not directing people to RESOURCES – What? You don’t use resources in your own pursuits and endeavors? This can’t be true, oh wise one. You don’t have to come up with the resources at all or even BE the resource, but knowing where aspiring what-have-you’s – can find some good curated resources, always puts you in their good graces and people are so thankful for and LOVE a resource handout.

Redeem Yourself: On your website (and full disclosure, I’m guilty of not doing this on my own site (yet) but I provide GREAT resources in all my presentations and classes; have a page of resources for aspiring “whatevers” on your website, even if its a short list of popular links, there may still be some things other, newbies in particular, haven’t yet heard of.

From my own personal experience, presenters , a good one, gives a little of him/herself away. They impart information, while sometimes overwhelming, that is comprehensive and understandable enough to ensure the eager and listening audience can 1. Understand 2. Act or implement the information and 3. Follow Up (with our someone) for Clarification (if need be).

Do that, and I’m signing up for every single workshop, talk or presentation you will ever render. Fan for life!


5 thoughts on “Be the Best Presenter – Avoid These Pet Peeves…

  1. Good Morning,

    How are you? Pray that you are doing great in all this rain. I am grateful for whatever God sends, however, I am not a rain person although I grew up in Washington State – in Southeastern part near Oregon border – there was no rain, very hot summers (dry not humid) and lots of snow in the winters (don’t remember being out of school as much as the children are here!) – weather unlike the Seattle area.

    I must say I am the AMEN person for this article. Tracee, I had just finished an “information” sheet for another year of School of Ushering when I looked at what mail I had received and saw this. Right on time!!

  2. GM Tracee, To God be the Praise. I enjoyed reading Your Pet Peeves. I agree, having a handout or handouts is very important to being a great or one of the best presenters. Your rationale for doing this is right on point. I would say “not having some sort of handout at a workshop, series, session, seminar, etc ” is one of my pet peeves. I can maintain not having a slideshow, power point but give me something in my hand that I can refer or reflect on later. Having an “Q & A” period(brief as a few questions) before the Presentation is over, is a great part of a Presentation to have. Like you said, there are many ways to do that without taking up too much time – using index cards , great idea.
    Tracee, again, Thanks for sharing your pet peeves, I hope those that are Presenters will take heed and especially if “they Are Not accustom to providing a handout(s), will Please provide some at their next presentation. Tracee, looking forward to your next, what I call “Spending Time with Tracee”, because, that’s exactly what I’ve done, Spent Time with You.

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