Tag Archives: bad presentation

Another video on good presentation skills

This video is geared towards the scientists and engineers. But actually the BASIC principles apply to everyone. The first point it makes is this: Can you still make your presentation if the power goes out? Or if your Windows computer freezes up? If the answer is no, you are not ready to give that presentation.

Another point the video makes is about NOT over-rehearsing – my big pet peeve. Do not memorize your presentation because you will sound like a dumb robot. Do you memorize your conversation with your friends? I hope not.

Here is the video:


This is my favorite slide from the video about putting your outline on the screen:

You want to communicate “enough” – not “everything”

In my previous post, I talked about how some bad presentations try to define “marketing strategy” and put up “mission statement”

In the bad presentation, it tries to define marketing strategy as something that involves the activities of selecting and describing one or more target markets and developing and maintaining a marketing mix that will produce mutually satisfying exchanges with target markets. So here are some questions about the definition. What exactly are those activities? What other targeted markets? How do you define a marketing mix? Specifically what is meant by mutually satisfying exchanges? The list of questions can go on and on with each definition requiring more definitions. If you try to talk to somebody using language like that all you will get in response is a blank stare or ridicule. Normal people do not talk that way.

As for the mission statement – this is usually one of the first things that an entrepreneur does. And the result is a painful and costly exercise that ends in “exceptional mediocrity” as Guy Kawasaki put it in his famous book the Art of the Start. Every mission statement says the same thing.

Let’s look at a major soda company’s mission statement. It states that it “wants to be the world’s premier consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce healthy financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in every thing we do, we strive for honesty and fairness and integrity.”

So who would not want to say all these nice things? My God – we have premier, healthy financial rewards, enrichment, honesty, fairness and integrity! The only things this company has left out in the mission statement are motherhood and apple pie. So it wants to be the best in the world and the one to make lots and lots of money and be nice to everybody. What else is new? Do we need to see and hear that in a PowerPoint presentation?

Another idiotic thing we often see in presentation is business plan. Every new business startup spends tons of money hiring consultants to draw up business plans. And every business plan pretty much says the same thing: we see this fantastic market in the world and we hope to make a gazillion dollars in five years’ time. What else is new? In order to attract investors, most of these business plans will of course assume an exponential growth. If you don’t believe me, just go and read some of the business plans of real estate developers written three years ago. Or the business plans of all those hi-tech start-ups written a year before the burst of the Dot Com bubble.

Business plans are nothing more than fantasies – pure and simple. It is like saying that you have this great product that you plan to sell to every single man, woman and child in China and India and by gosh if you can just make a profit of one dollar each, your annual profit  would be $2 billion. But please tell us what you plan to do to actually get every man woman and child to buy your product. And how much would that cost you? The success of any company is in the execution of the business on a day-to-day basis, not how fanciful a five-year fairy tale looks like.

99.9% of business plans read like science fiction after one year in operation –  assuming the startup has not gone out of business by that time.

So skip the business plan in your presentation already. Just talk about how you plan to run your business realistically. Forget about all the business buzzwords. Just tell us your story. Describe your dream in terms that normal people can relate to. Not a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

That is the essence of a good presentation.

What’s on your mind when you see a bad presentation?

My friend Jim from the U.K. sent me a link to a “new alternative” to PowerPoint Presentation and asked me what I thought of it. He said it made him feel seasick. It made me drowsy after a minute. Here is what went through my mind as I viewed the presentation and gradually slipped into a coma:

“Look buddy – If you have something interesting to say to me, please say it. Tell it to me like we are having a conversation over a cup of coffee. Don’t splash a bunch of hideous words up there and expect me to read them while you mouth every bloody word of it.

For example, you don’t need to define for me the legal meaning of “marketing strategy”. Just tell me what it means to you – in plain old English. Every time you try to define some terms in a legalistic way, some smart attorney is going to tear it apart. He is going to say that you have missed something in the definition. So forget about it.

My friend – I don’t need you to tell me what your mission statement is in fine prints that are totally unreadable. Besides – mission statements are silly. Every company has pretty much the same mission statement: to make as much money as possible at the least possible cost while being the best in the industry and keeping customers happy. Have I covered everything? So what else is new? Tell me something new. Perhaps your mission statement is to not soil your undergarment while giving a boring presentation. That I would like to see on the screen.

If the subject of your talk is very complicated or technical, please give me a hard paper copy of your report and I will read it, analyze it, study it, and examine it in details later. Don’t put up your fancy equations and formulas on the screen. No one will be impressed. All you need to tell me right now is the overall layman’s view of your topic. As they say – if you can’t explain YOUR own topic to your 92 year old grand mother, it means you don’t really understand it!

You see – any fool can splash a bunch of words up there and read them. To explain them in good old plain English, that’s a different matter altogether.

So – enough of these bells and whistles. Just tell me YOUR story, please. Thank you very much.”

Ding ding ding….does my reaction ring a bell to you?

This one borders on being criminal!

Take a look at this PowerPoint slide from an on-line training course! They actually have the temerity to have  computer generated voice read off every word and acronym on that busy slide. Do they bother to explain what those acronyms (SJE, SJEOO, SJOO, STOO, etc.) mean? Of course not.

What NOT to do in a presentation

I just came off a recorded webinar on the subject of “Do you have what it takes to be a virtual online trainer?”. Interesting enough topic – right? That’s why I went there.

The webinar started off with a moderator giving a 3-minute “overview” of a very complicated home page. She was trying to explain to the audience what each and every button on the screen (and there were lots of them) was supposed to do. And then the instructor (or “coach” as she called herself) came on and fumbled with her speaker volume for a minute – apologizing all along about why it was hard for  the audience to hear her. And then she went on and “polled” the audience for another 3 minutes – asking the audience to complete a long series of inane questions. After that fiasco, she spent 3 more minutes telling the audience about her life story – as if anyone really cared. There was a LOT of idle chatter.

It wan’t until 12 minutes – yes 12 long minutes later – that she began to talk about the subject of her webinar: Do you have what it takes to be a virtual online trainer?

Of course, all her slides were loaded with mind numbing bullet points. That’s about the time I clicked off.

Here are some lessons we can all learn from this horrific experience:

First of all, keep everything SIMPLE!!! If you have to spend a minute (let alone 3!) to show people how to navigate around your site, it is TOO complicated!

Second. Fix your technological problems BEFORE you come on your webinar – not during. I am not a big fan of long rehearsals. But this is where rehearsal comes in handy. Test your mike before you come on – please.

Third. Forget about polling the audience before you get into the meat of your webinar. The noble intent of polling your audience is to customize your presentation to the needs of your audience. Most speakers don’t do that. They go on with their pre-determined content. Poll it afterwards if you must.

Fourth. Keep your life story to a minimum. No one cares how many dogs and cats you have unless you are doing a webinar on pets. Please keep your idle chatter down. People set aside their valuable time to hope to learn from you. Show some respect and don’t waste their time.

One last point: What’s with this thing about calling yourself a “coach”? When people say coach, I think of Bobby Knight. LOL. Maybe it is just me, shouldn’t the term “coach” be reserved for basketball, baseball and football? I know someone who calls himself  a “life coach” – presumably to teach his clients about dealing with life and finance. He has been divorced multiple times and his house is in foreclosure. Is that the kind of coach you want?

A bald head!

bald-head1I was watching the Governors Conference yesterday on CSPAN. There was a speaker – a former ambassador – who gave a talk on infrastructure. Cannot tell you what he was talking about because all I saw was his shinny bald head as he READ his entire “talk” from written notes.

Why do people do that?

Watch the video from the National Governors Association Winter meeting and you will see what I mean.

What not to do in a presentation

This is a very funny video on common mistakes made by geeks when making presentations. Although it was staged, all those mistakes actually happen in real life. Enjoy! 

Here is another video that is very funny and instructive