Tag archives: Pitfalls in presentation

Key Pitfalls in Presentations

Key pitfalls in presentations


The 5 common pitfalls in most presentations are:

1) Too long

2) Too much information

3) No clear point

4) No clear flow

5) No audience benefit


1) Too long

How do we feel when we see the presenter has over 200 slides? Most presentations are too long. This is partly due to our Malaysian culture that favours indirect communication. Our culture moves to the boardroom, with presentations that skirt around the point and take 30 minutes before the key message or proposition is put across. We need to put the key proposition across, and the sooner we do so the better. For an example of saying a lot with few words, check out Rix Quinn’s book, “Words that Stick” available on Amazon.com.


2) Too much information.

Someone told me that a PowerPoint presentation would not be complete without 20 or 30 charts. I disagree. In my experience in making presentations, less is more. The best test for putting in any information is to ask “So what?” or “Why did I put this piece of information there?” Ask yourself if it is relevant. Also ask if the message can be put across without that piece of information. Be brutal when you edit your presentation material. If you must show a chart, make sure that you want to make one point with that chart and keep the chart simple. Only put information that is absolutely necessary. Check out Dick Hardt’s presentation where he doesn’t use a single bullet point or chart and yet conveys very complex concepts in a simple manner within 15 minutes.


3) No clear point

Many of us have left presentations asking, “What did he/she want?”. At the end of a presentation, the audience should know exactly what you are talking about AND what you want. When Carlos Ghosn from Nissan talks, he makes 2-3 points that he outlines at the beginning and summarizes at the end. To make our presentations more effective, we should clearly establish what we will talk about, ideally keeping a maximum of 5 points and summarizing the points at the end for emphasis.


4) No clear flow.

Another sin of presentation is jumping around from point to point. Some presentations tend to go from macro to micro and back again resulting in a confused audience. Decide on a flow structure and stick with it! It also helps to map out what you want to achieve before you start preparing your presentation. This will make your flow clearer.


5) No Audience Benefit.

Presentations also commonly focus on features instead of the audience benefit. We need to know what’s in it for us. In a presentation on a gated property for sale by the developer, the focus is on the features, e.g. 24-hour security and a pool. In terms of the audience benefit, the presentation should have focused on the peace of mind due to 24-hour security, and the pool that will help ease your working stress.

In creating a presentation, we look at how to get the audience to an “ah ha”. This requires some thought as to what would be in it for the audience. We need to find a key driver to make people listen. We need to ask “Why should the audience be listening to this presentation?” and “What’s In It For You?”.


To learn more about the five pitfalls above and how to make your presentations stand out, come for the 2nd Power Presentation Skills Program on 22-23 September 2008 at

RezZen (M) Sdn Bhd,

Suite 2B-5-1,

Plaza Sentral, Jalan Stesen Sentral,

Kuala Lumpur 50480.


Participants receive a DVD of themselves together with a development plan. The cost is RM2,200/participant which is HRDF claimable.


Comment from a participant to the July program.


“I attended the presentation course 2 weeks ago, and in my opinion the course was outstanding, enjoyable and 100% effective. I truly believe that this course has added significant value to me. It fully addressed my needs and I am actually looking forward to delivering my next presentation. The course was very practical and I would like to thank Juarez who was definitely an inspiring facilitator!”