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Essential Speaking Skills
All about the art of public speaking.

Top Seven Presentation Bloopers to Avoid

In no particular order….. since all are equally bad…

Blooper #1: Not telling us why we should listen to you

Never assume that just because you have an audience, we are obliged to listen to you. We may love you (that’s why we came in the first place) but never take advantage of the trust we have for you. It is an extreme turn-off when the audience has to do the work i.e. figure out how your presentation is relevant to us. We are a bunch of selfish egomaniacs. We love ourselves so much! And we don’t care about your experiences unless it teaches us something that we can use for ourselves. So here’s a word of advice: If you want to share your experiences, please do. But always include a message, something that will benefit us, your beloved audience!

Blooper #2: Ignoring us throughout your speech

We get bored easily. Period. If you keep talking about you, you, you, you, you… we will switch off. We want to be part of your speech. We really do. Get us involved. It could be as simple as asking us a question. It gives us a chance to hear ourselves talk. It could be as simple as playing a mini game with us. It gets us up on our seat. Please entertain us! Make us love you. We really want to because if you keep ignoring our needs, we will do the same. Lucky for the speaker, he allowed us to ask questions at any point in his presentation and guess what, we did! In my opinion, that was his saving grace!

Blooper #3: Going overtime

No matter how good you are, never ever go over time!!! Unless we paid you thousands of dollars to teach us something and you are about to share with us the ultimate secret to earning another ten million. If you want your audience to love you, end earlier than expected! It tells us that you respect our time. It makes you special because most speakers don’t observe that. And guess what, the next time you give your presentation; we will be there to support you!

Blooper #4: Spelling errors on your slides

Imagine sitting in a formal business presentation with a presentation slide like this:

In the gamming industry…
Upluft and Profit
Generated an annual revenue of $1.000000 dollars (huh???!!!)
Curent Maket size of 30 billion people

Ok, you get my point. When you have these glaring spelling mistakes in your slides, here’s the image you are portraying to your audience: sloppy and cannot be bothered. Unless that’s what you want the audience to think of you, I suggest you get someone to do a spell check.

Blooper #5: Bad pronunciation of words

It cracks me up when some presenters stumble upon the same word every single time, without any sign of remorse. There was one time I sat through a presentation where the team had to review a company’s product named Morange. And throughout the ten minutes presentation, they came up with oh so many ways to pronounce this word.


And I swear one time I heard Moron. They might as well labelled the product Moronic Morange. That would be… memorable. Some “credit” has to be given to the company who named their product mo-range.

Blooper #6: Reading off the script

Although my preference is to go without a script, sometimes there is a need for it. However more often than not, speakers are too reliant on their script. You see them referring to their script even if it is just reading their name and designation??!! Yes, this is very puzzling. I once came across a book that taught me how to read from a script. Here’s the golden rule. Never ever speak when your eyes are on your script. Instead, you should follow this three-step process: see, stop, say.

First, look down and take a snapshot of your script. Memorize a chunk of words. Bring your head up and then pause for a second. When you are ready, say what you have memorized in your own words. It’s a three-step process: see, stop and say. It is very important that you pause. Yes, it may be weird for you but in reality, the pause helps make your speech conversational. It also creates anticipation, which further deepen the impact.

Let’s use President SR Nathan’s opening speech at the Parliament as an example. Instead of reading the script word for word, he could use the see-stop-say strategy.

Forty one years ago
Singapore was thrust into independence and an uncertain future
At that defining moment of our history
we resolved to succeed.
(longer pause for impact)
Singaporeans made key choices that made us who we are today
a united people of different races
living and prospering in harmony.

Blooper #7: Starting your presentation weak

Maybe it is just me but I get really pissed off when a speaker starts off his presentation with “Urm.. I guess I should probably start… ah ok, here goes…”. Or even worse “I am not really prepared for this presentation because (give some lame excuse). But anyway, I will start…” Trust me, giving excuses of why you may not do a good job will hardly win the sympathy of your audience. Instead, you will make us feel that we are unworthy of your time. You will be better off not giving the presentation since no one will be listening anyway.

As the saying goes, you will not get a second chance to make a good first impression. So make full use of your first 30 seconds to impress your audience. Here are a couple of ways you can start a presentation powerfully. You can tell a personal story and relate it back to the message of your presentation. Starting your presentation with a visual stimulating or humorous video clip will also create impact. Or begin with a thought provoking quote or a shocking statistic, which will create the listening for your presentation. All these are far more superior to your usual good morning/afternoon/evening niceties or worse, apologies.

“Top Seven Presentation Bloopers to Avoid”