What happens when someone forces you to deliver a bad presentation? You didn’t design the speech. You didn’t even create the endless slideshow. However, you are the one who has to stand in front of the group and deliver this gem. So, how do you deliver a bad presentation? Are there things that you can do to make a lousy presentation better? Of course. In this episode, I’ll show you some things that you can do to improve any presentation.
First, I will cover some significant mistakes that people make when they design presentations for someone else. I will also give you tips for each. Then, in the end, I will provide you with a few tips that will help you make the presentation more attractive.
Mistakes Organizers Make that are Supposed to Help the Speaker, But Hurt the Speaker.
- The All Encompassing Presentation. (The Most Common Version of a Bad Presentation.)
A significant portion of people looking for help on how to deliver a lousy presentation has this as the cause. Their company has created an all-encompassing presentation that covers everything under the sun. Most often, this is because of one of two reasons. First, the creator is trying to help the presenter and just over-helps. Second, because of legal requirements or governmental regulations, a standard structure must be presented.
This approach eliminates one of the most vital parts of a great presentation — focusing on just what the audience needs at the moment. (By the way, the easiest way to fix this is to Design a Better Presentation. Or, you can request that the presentation designer go through one of our classes.)
One solution is to create a printed document as a “leave behind.” Then, you customize the content that you cover to the specific needs of the audience. This way, you deliver all of the material required by the higher powers, but your presentation is better. Another way to provide the presentation is to cover most of it in a cursory fashion. Then, spend more time and effort on the specific parts of the presentation most attractive to the audience.
- The Highly Educated Speech.
Another challenging speech is when the organizer uses what I call, Harvard Words.” So that you know, this most often occurs when the person creating the speech is concerned about his/her education level. This can happen when someone is designing a presentation to the executive team. It could also occur if, for instance, a nurse is presenting to a group of doctors. Or if a paralegal is presenting to attorneys. Here is an example.
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If you are looking for how to deliver a bad presentation, and this is your situation, use the “B” button… A lot. The “B” button on PowerPoint blacks out the slide. Just show the slide, refer to what you need to, and quickly black it out. Once the audience focuses on you, insert easy to understand stories that relate to the point being made. (For more details about how to do this, see How to Tell a Great Story.)
- The Presentation that You Don’t Understand.
A recent woman in my class had to deliver continuing education programs on topics outside of her expertise. Everyone in her audience was experts on the content. She was not. This woman spent a ton of time studying the presentations and the examples. She got to a point where she could deliver the training effectively. She became pretty competent at answering questions. However, she still feels uncomfortable.
It is easier to find an expert and teach that person presentation skills. It is much harder to train a presenter to be an expert on the topic.
Years ago, a local financial planner used to come to all of my local speeches. Each time, he offered me a lucrative position with his firm. He wanted me to deliver financial planning seminars for him. I’d have to captivate the audience and build trust. Then, people who wanted more would schedule a meeting with a financial planner. The fourth time I turned him down, he offered me an ungodly amount of money. I almost accepted. It wouldn’t have worked, though. I would have had to spend years learning the industry. Eventually, I trained his employees to present. It was much easier and much cheaper.
How to Deliver a Bad Presentation that Doesn’t Fit the Above Challenges.
- Insert Your Own Person Experiences and Stories.
Just as with the highly-educated presentation above, stories are great at making bad presentations better. Stories and examples make bad presentations enjoyable. They make excellent presentations great. They also make great presentations exceptional. A good rule-of-thumb is to insert at least one good story for each point that you make.
I was at a speaker’s conference once, and one of the attendees told me, “Doug, the only difference between you and everyone else who speaks on your topic is the stories that you tell.” (Do you realize that that single sentence was a story?)
A couple of weeks ago, I was coaching a tech-support guy. He said, “Technical questions don’t lend themselves to telling stories.” I thought about his response for a minute. Then, I asked, “What is the most common tech problem that you solve on a day-to-day basis?” He answered. I then asked, “Do you remember one time when that problem came up when the solution was a real challenge?” He nodded his head. Then, a moment later, it hit him that that instance was the story.
You can do the same with your content.
- A Real Secret to How to Deliver a Bad Presentation is to Add Analogies.
Analogies and metaphors are a fantastic way to make presentations better. The more complicated the presentation, the more valuable a great analogy can be. When I was a kid, I was at Spencer’s Gifts in the mall. They had a poster that was a jumbled mess. It was odd. In front of the poster, though, there was a set of paper glasses with a red filter as the lenses. A note next to the glasses said, “Put me on.” When I did, all of the lines and shapes in the poster disappeared. I could see very clearly the text and image on the poster. It was like magic. I took the glasses off and then put them back on. The poster went from messy to clean immediately.
A good analogy at the proper time can make messy presentations clean, as well. (See what I did there? I gave you both a story and an analogy.) For more details about how to insert analogies into a presentation, click here.
- Add a Little Humor into Your Bad Presentation.
For years, I used to encourage people that I coached to avoid inserting jokes into their presentations. Then, one Sunday morning, I was watching a Sunday news program while eating breakfast before church. When the show ended, the next program was a live broadcast from Joel Olsteen’s church in Houston. His very first words after the welcome were, “I always like to start with something funny.” He then told a corny joke. The camera’s panned the audience. He had over 20,000 people in his church, laughing.
The next Sunday morning, I paid attention to his opening. The same thing happened. It happened again the next week, and the next, and the next. He gets thousands of people to come to church every Sunday. What he is doing appears to be working. You might try it too. (For details about how to add humor to your presentation, click here.)
The Best Way to Deliver a Bad Speech is to Make the Presentation Better.
Of course, if you want to know how to deliver a bad presentation, the answer is to make the presentation better. Our expert instructors at Fearless Presentations ® can help. For a list of our upcoming classes, visit our Public Speaking Course Schedule.