In the last few emails to my subscribers (sign up for my free newsletter here), I asked who are the most annoying presenters. I wanted your thoughts because everyone has a different opinion and multiple perspectives make us all better. So when I asked for your thoughts on the most annoying presenter, boy did you respond. Your opinions and bad experiences rolled in and I feel bad how often people see bad presentations. (Please share my posts with everyone you know so you don’t have to sit through another annoying presenter again.)
Most Annoying Presenters
These attributes are in no particular order, but each characteristic had multiple votes from my modest list of email newsletter subscribers and social media followers.
- Ummmers – These are the annoying speakers who fill every pause with filler words like umm, uhh, you know, and so. Breaking this habit of speaking with crutch words is important because it gives your audience that slight pause to think and remember what you’re saying. (Unfortunately, so many people use crutch words in everyday conversations, many audience members will not notice, but it will annoy others greatly.)
- Readers – Presenters can annoy their audiences by reading the screen (turning their back to the audience) or by reading note cards or a script. Presenters that read can not engage their audience because of a lack of eye contact, generally are more nervous, and can appear less professional because the audience doubts the speaker knows the subject matter.
- Someone Else Wrote the Presentation – Usually, presenters admit they didn’t create the presentation because they’re struggling to get through it, reading too much, skipping ahead on slides, and overall floundering and saying a lot of crutch words. Sometimes this scenario happens because of a last-minute change in presenters like an illness, but other times it is sales reps repeating someone else’s presentation and not taking the time to familiarize themselves with the presentation. (Another reason why I don’t write my clients’ presentation, just help guide them developing it themselves.)
- Severe Pacing – I just wrote about pacing and how annoying it is — presenters pacing back and forth on stage makes the audience’s heads bounce back and forth like watching a tennis match and they eventually focus on watching you pace instead of paying attention to your message. Unfortunately, many speakers think they’re doing something good by “working the stage”, instead they’re just annoying the audience.
- Run Really Late – When speakers’ presentations run long, it puts pressure on the audience who has other things to do like go to another conference session, go to another meeting, or pick up their kids from school. Running long because you rambled or didn’t practice enough to get a good time check is disrespectful to your audience. Even if you’re having an engaging dialogue with your audience, table your Q&A and speak more offline to be respectful to everyone’s schedule.
- Soft Speaker – The rule of thumb is to speak to the back of the room, but some presenters speak so softly that no one passed the front row can hear the speaker. If you’re stilling in the back of the room, this is annoying.
- Speak in Jargon – I got a lot of responses regarding this topic, probably because many of my subscribers responded to last week’s email about this topic and it is the center of my mission to Speak Simple. Speaking in code distances the presenter from the audience by creating a wall of misunderstanding so the audience starts checking their phones and not paying attention. (This annoying characteristic can cost your company a lot of money doing bid presentations and thought leadership presentations.)
- Don’t Answer the Question Asked – I often see this annoying presenter habit on Shark Tank where the sharks (investors) ask a specific question and the presenter avoids the answer and says everything else but the answer. An audience member asks a question, potentially because you’re speaking over their head, so please answer it succinctly.
- Unprepared Presenter – I always tell new speakers that they can eliminate up to 80% of their nervousness by being prepared. Preparedness matters to the audience for a different reason – you respect their time and their desire to hear your message. Follow my proper presentation preparation checklist to make sure you’re not doing this annoying habit.
Most Annoying Presenters to Coach
I let you voice your thoughts on the most annoying presenters to watch, so I thought I’d share the most annoying presenters to coach (and I don’t think they’ll surprise you).
- Natural Speakers – People with boisterous, booming voices may have a voice for radio, but that doesn’t make them great presenters. Vocals are just one component of a presentation and your message is much more important that a voice that doesn’t need a microphone to hear.
- Overly Experienced Presenter – These presenters have “been there and done that”, so they think they don’t need to practice, even when presenting with a team, which is dangerous for high-stake bid presentations. Regardless how many times you’ve presented, you need to practice to ensure you’re prepared because your audience can tell and it is key to being audience-centric.
- Egotistical Public Speakers – These speakers focus on themselves, not their audience and they drive me up the wall. The goal of your presentation should be to enrich the audience’s lives, not to stroke your ego. If you’re presenting for lead generation or a bid presentation, you need to focus on what your audience will get from your message, not how it benefits you.
I guess I can summarize these three types of presenters as uncoachable, know-it-alls that are apprehensive to new techniques. Sometimes I need to ask clients to just try it my way to see if they feel a difference and they eventually try it and enjoy the adjustment.
I also detest presenters that ask for advice and don’t utilize it. Regardless of how much you know about presentations, you can still learn how to be a better presenter. I’ve presented over 1,000 times and coached hundreds of presentations (successfully winning millions of dollars in new business), and I still learn new things about presentations every week.
In the end, don’t be like these annoying presenters.
- Download 6 Amazing Ways to Overcome Presentation Fear, a free guide.
- Learn more about how my self-guided presentation training curriculum, SpeakU, can help you dramatically increase your effectiveness when speaking and close more deals.
- Follow Speak Simple on Facebook and YouTube for more ways to improve your presentations.
How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.