How To Do Everything Wrong In A Presentation

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Watch this video…

Brutal (and funny)… I know.

I was unaware of the book, Habitudes For Communicators, so Dr. Tim Elmore gets high marks for not only cutting through the clutter, but for creating something so funny (because it’s true). What’s scary is that this video (in all of its humor) is a basic round-up of about ninety-percent of the presentations I attend (I’m sure your experience is similar). The tools are here for us to get better. If you want to make a difference in your world (and the world of your co-workers), please pass this video around, watch it… and then go out and read the following books (in this order):

  1. Give Your Speech, Change The World by Nick Morgan.
  2. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.
  3. Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

Three books and you can not only deliver amazing presentations, but you can spare the rest of us.

(hat-tip: Mick)


  1. So true, funny, sad, but so true.
    Resonate is a great book thank you for turning me on to it in a previous post, as well as Presentation Zen. I’ll check out Give Your Speech next.

  2. Very funny, and sadly accurate. Thanks for posting. I will pass it on. I loved Garr’s book and will buy the other two.

  3. Your timing is impeccable – Tonight I sat on my desk in front of my university students with my laptop in my lap, facing outwards, because the connection between my PC and the classroom projector wouldn’t take.
    Now while I blame the prof ahead of me for only leaving me 6 minutes before class to set up, the rest is on me. It took me 2 seconds to figure out the problem … after class was over, of course.
    Oh! And there was even a snarky comment about Mac vs PC from the student who sauntered up to try to help!
    If we can’t laugh at ourselves … 😉

  4. Sadly all too true. Especially internally. Employees gathered in a room in the dark [the only thing missed in this video is how dark it can be in the audience] to hear some senior person they likely have never met and only hear from on the quarter talk about something they may or may not care about or need to know in a way that is incomprehensible. And don’t forget the bad coffee and snacks.
    Books are great Mitch. And you know better than anyone mindful – practice, practice, practice… and some great coaching and feedback. Thanks for sharing.
    And Michelle, sorry to hear about your first class tech problems. Last time I taught I ended up with students hanging off the rafters trying to get the projector to work for the first five minutes. Not the best beginning. Over reliance on technology in universities where PP is mandatory?!

  5. Hilarious. But sad at the same time because not much has changed in the 23 years since I left staff development in education. I think anytime you can infuse humor (authentic humor) in a presentation, you are going to stand out from 90 percent of the presenters out there. If you can get people to laugh with you, they will remember you and your ideas. This parody video is a perfect example of that. : )

  6. Thanks for the info.
    I confirm that a lot of presentation i have seen last year were like this. Garr Reynolds and his book “presentation zen” was my reference with slidology (Nancy Duarte).
    Can not wait to read this book !

  7. This video is DEAD-ON! As one who has spent many years delivering presentations I can say that everything in the video usually happens when the facilitator is ill-prepared and inexperienced…happens to the best of us….laugh…live…learn.

  8. I’m surprised, Mitch. You’re excellent at answering questions.
    Q&A makes a session come alive, though is tougher with large audiences. At The Art Of Sales in Toronto. Seth Godin took lots of questions (perhaps 30 min) and Susan Corcoran did too (10 min). That unscripted interaction added to the sessions by showing the presenters were real and knew their stuff.
    As a presenter, I like the Q&A best because that’s when I learn what the audience thinks. That can give ideas for revisions or blog posts. It’s also an opportunity to practice impromptu speaking and demonstrate expertise.

  9. Probably bad example because it’s not exactly a business matter, but I’m finishing my master’s degree in one of the (arguably) top universities in Portugal and many of my fellow students’ presentations are simply terrible.

  10. You’re right it depends on both the venue size and the type of presentation that the speaker delivers. More often than not, I find that the Q&A deflates the room and has the speaker leaving on a low rather than a high. That being said, I’ve seen a handful of great ones too. As Seth says, “your mileage may vary”?

  11. First of all, thank you so much for posting our video: “Every Presentation Ever: Communication FAIL” on your site.
    Unfortunately, we had to upload an updated version. I’m including the updated links to make it as easy as possible to update your site.
    Here is the new link:
    And embed code:
    Thanks so much!

  12. An effective solution is to do a prepared close after the Q&A. That puts the speaker back in charge, especially if there’s a twist or “wow”.
    At Podcamp Toronto 2012, my session is on building trust with podcasting. The format is unscripted group Q&A but I will have a prepared intro and ending to guide the experience.

  13. College courses are unfortunately set up to be this behavior. Sadly, I’ve found myself doing so many of these while teaching. Time to shake things up!

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