Here is a transcript from a horrible presentation made by rookie presenter, Joe Fumbler.
In August 2012, I conducted a contest exclusively for Design Dispatch readers to find all the flubs made by Joe Fumbler during his presentation, and reader Robbie Kularski came up with eighteen mistakes! Thankfully, this presentation never really took place, but mistakes like these are perpetrated by bad presenters all the time.
Read on and see if you recognize any of these gaffes.
Transcript of Joe Fumbler’s Presentation
“Hi, welcome to my presentation. Let me just get these slides up…wait a minute…OK there. Whoops, now let me get out of Normal View here and just get into Slide Show mode. There we go! Now, could somebody hit the lights so we could get started? Great!”
- Very unprofessional opening. These people are not your friends in a living room.
- Presentation not cued
- Not prepared with lighting. (Editor’s Note: Ideally, you want the room dim enough to clearly see your presentation while having enough light for attendees to take notes.)
“So, let me start by saying thank you very much for having me here. I know you’re really going to like what I have to say! Let’s take a look at the Agenda slide here on the screen and read with me a minute as I go over with you what I’m going to talk about during the presentation.”
- Reading Agenda slide word for word
“Now let me tell you a little bit about myself.”
[Ten minutes later…]
- Talking too long about himself. Booooorrrrring!
“Well, that’s my background. Now let’s see what else we have here…oh yeah! Here’s a picture of our office, and our office mascot, Barky. Barky is waiting for your order! Heh, heh.”
- Office mascot? Who cares?
- Rotten joke about Barky
“Now, you’re probably wondering why you should buy widgets from me and not Acme Company down the street. Well, there’s a good answer for that. We’ve been in business for 50 years and our engineers have been working around the clock, pulling in lots of overtime, to perfect this widget. So we really know what we’re doing.”
- Nobody cares if you know what you’re doing or how long you’ve been in business. What is important to the audience is themselves and their agenda.
- Mentioning his chief competitor, Acme, might not be such a great idea. (Editor’s Note: It would be if Joe could clearly differentiate his company from the competition on something other than price.)
“Wait, I’ll answer all of your questions at the end of the presentation. Thank you.”
- Answer the question! And during his introduction he might have mentioned that there will be a question and answer period at the end of the presentation. Don’t tell your audience what to do; they don’t like that.
“Anyway, our experience makes us the best choice because we know our stuff.”
- Opening sentences with words like “anyway” shows a lack of professionalism and practice.
“Let me show you this table that compares the performance of our widget against the competition’s. As you can see in row 10, column 12, the bottom line is that our widgets are better. Plain and simple.”
- A table with 10 rows and 12 columns, as you’ve kindly pointed out more than once, is much too big.
“Again, we’re your best choice for widgets because we’ve got the most experience.”
- “Again” comes the part of the presentation telling the audience that having the most experience is the chief reason they should choose his product. (Could be they are a little more than interested in price or service.) (Editor’s Note: Focus on service as a differentiator, not price. When you devolve into a pricing war you lose the advantages you might offer based on your experience.)
“Excuse me? What’s our experience in your industry? Well, I’d asked you to hold all questions until the end, but I can tell you that our experience is with a lot of industries and we find that we’re able to use what we know for pretty much any customer.”
- Once more, Joe chastises the person who asks a question — bad! And he doesn’t answer the question.
- Editor’s Note: He’s offering a one-size-fits-all solution and not bothering to customize his presentation for that particular audience’s industry.
“OK, moving right along. Oh. That’s the end. Any questions?”
- Editor’s Note: Joe didn’t realize he’d reached the end of the presentation because he didn’t practice.
[Pause for audience member’s question.]
“I don’t know that we do that. Any other questions? No? Good, because I have a plane to catch. Thanks very much for your attention, and I hope we’ll be hearing from you real soon.”
[Joe quickly gathers his things and bolts out the door.]
- “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. (Editor’s Note: Here’s a better one: “That’s an excellent question! I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that one, but I’ll call the office during the break to see if someone there can help us out with that. If your question requires more research, then I will be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.”)
- “I have a plane to catch” = “You, the audience, are inconveniencing me. Besides, I’m far too busy to care about you.”
- FA CRYIN’ OUT LOUD, It isn’t going to kill him to miss his plane in order to help out a prospective customer in any way he can.
- Again, poor planning.
- By the way, did our Mr. Joe ever tell the audience his name? I hope not.