Presentation pet peeves

After sitting in a particularly uncomfortable 3-day training full of manipulative techniques and antiquated presentation methodologies, I was prompted to create a list of these to share with my professional speaker/trainer colleagues. Even though you may not be an independent training professional, I thought you might appreciate reading what our colleagues do that irritates us.

Unfortunately, many presenters confuse forced interaction with engagement. Just because someone is doing your exercises or shouting back what you ask, doesn’t mean they are doing so totally willingly and engaged in the process.

I’m aware that what is off-putting to one could be perfectly fine for another. Also, your definition of what’s working may be different than mine.

I’d love to see what you’d add to this list!

  • Having your audience continually repeat what you shout out. While you may think it is anchoring key points in your audience’s mind, it is evocative of kindergarten and insulting to anyone over age 5.
  • Regularly asking, “Isn’t this great stuff?” Your neediness to be acknowledged shouts sadly. Get a dog to show you ongoing affection — don’t manipulate an audience to feed your ego.
  • Announcing one start time back from lunch/breaks, but starting 10-30 minutes after that. This is insulting to your audience who’s managed their time to be back promptly.
  • Playing loud music as the break ends and dancing on stage for 10 minutes while everyone looks on. Find another way to get your attention needs met, not by prancing around while wasting the audience’s time.
  • Adding irrelevant content before getting to the advertised topics because you say the audience “needs it.” Start with the promised stuff, then if you want to do the ancillary stuff, tell the group those who want can stay for a bonus hour or two.
  • Crying on cue. This makes the audience feel manipulated. If you can’t tell a story without crying, get therapy before telling it on stage. When they see you speak again and cry at the exact same spot, they’ll feel dupped and hate you.
  • Cursing on the platform, justifying it because you say you want to be authentic and the same on the platform as off. If you don’t have a filter for public vs. private behavior because you feel that’s inauthentic, then you’d have no compunction about wearing your undies on stage, just as you do around your house. Or scratching or picking body parts because that’s what you do at home. This is a lame excuse for not working to filter inappropriate comments.
  • Using old stories and processes (lighthouse story, starfish, old woman/young woman images, 9 dots) and acting like they are new or originated by you.
  • Asking the audience to stand for some unclear reason for your last story so you can say you got a standing ovation.
  • Giving incomplete information because they really need to sign up for your expensive coaching program or buy your expensive manual or kit to get it all.
  • Being unavailable during breaks so 1) you give the impression that you’re a celebrity so shouldn’t be approached, and 2) no one can ask questions that would then negate their buying your products to get their questions answered.
  • The speaker instructs, “Turn to a stranger and tell them [something inauthentic, as you’ve never spoken to them before, e.g., ‘You’re fantastic.’ ‘I’m glad you’re here.’ ‘You’re full of great ideas.’]”
  • Making the audience do your work: “One representative from each table need to come get the handouts.” Why can’t you put them out in advance?
  • Creating scarcity to produce a feeding frenzy: “I only have a few of these articles here, so come to the front and get one if you want one.”
  • Going overtime, which then throws off the whole meeting. No matter how much your ego thinks they are loving it and they want you to continue, stop when you are supposed to stop.