Five Deadly Presentations Sins

Posted by Kristin Arnold on February 27, 2011

While doing a radio interview with Paula Morand on VoiceAmerica about my book, Boring to Bravo, Paula asked me about the Five Sins.  She was referring to the Five Sins of Teamwork, taken from my book, Team Basics!  It took me a moment to wrap my head around the idea that these same five sins apply just as well to presentations.  So here you go:

1.  Talking At, Rather than With Others.  Much like a parent talks at a child, some may present with an authoritative “I know this, and you don’t” tone.  People with perceived power typically talk at others in a direct and condescending manner.  They tell them what they know, and they aren’t really looking at the audience reaction.

2.  Talking About Other People.  Much like when we were kids, when we don’t get our own way, we talk about other people behind their backs.  In the presentation world, you may be talking about people without their knowledge.   You are mentioning their name and saying something (good or bad) about them when they are not in the room.  If it is a personal story and you have a relationship (good or bad), you should check with them first.  See if it is okay to tell that story – especially if it might put them in a bad light.

3.  Talking Around Them.  In the era of email and voicemail, it is easy to flip indirect barbs about people – and we think they will never know.  But email and voicemail are about as private as a postcard.  Your presentation might be put on, blogged about, or tweeted, so if you aren’t willing to share the information with the bazillion people on the planet, don’t say it.

4.  Whining.  If you look hard enough, you can always find something to complain about.  Constant complainers whine about what happened, didn’t happen, what they did, what they didn’t do, who they did it with…and the list goes on.  Please don’t use the platform as your personal therapy.

5.  Avoidance.  Rather than deal with the issue or problem, we may choose to ignore it, hoping that it will go away.  For presenters, this is all about your call to action.  You have informed them, inspired them, and now they need to leave your presentation and go do something.  Be specific about what it is that you want them to do, think, or feel differently as a result of your time together.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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