Ok, this round of pet peeves is centered on presenting. This applies in a variety of reasons for presenting from work meetings to conference sessions. Some of these resulted from Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds and Training from the BACK of the room by Sharon Bowman.

  • Reading the screen:  I know it’s comforting.  Look away from the audience and read the big screen.  This should rarely be done.  First, people can read and don’t need you to read for them.  Second, you break connection with audience each time you look away.  Third, if everything you have to say is on the screen, why are you there?
  • Reading notes only:  I take pride in that I’m able to present without notes. This takes practice and preparation.  This also takes comfort with speaking in front of others.  That said, I don’t mind when presenters have notes.  I mind when their face is buried in the notes and not visible to me.  You could just write a document and I’ll read it instead.
  • Template:  I realize the industry professional standard is a powerpoint template.  I’m asleep by the 5th slide that looks exactly like the previous 4 – bullets with a company footer.  The worst part is that the goal is to make the brand visible; the problem is that our brains ignore the same and notice differences.  So the very goal and approach is flawed.
  • Overhead: Please do not take 15 mins of your 60 mins talking about the title, the agenda and yourself.  You have less than 5 minutes to hook me (and that might be generous). I’ve already read the description/agenda and bio, let’s get to the topic!
  • Delivery:  I want to be engaged.  That doesn’t always mean “exercises” but could be stories/examples.  I don’t want monotone.  My phone is already extremely tempting to me, don’t give me opportunities to be distracted away from your material. Practice and get creative with how you want to present.
  • Material:  This is probably the smallest pet peeve as I value awareness of a topic but personally, I’m not a fan of the person presenting about a book’s theory without having applied the concept for themselves (successfully or not).  I want depth in order to understand how I could apply/evolve the concept.  I can read a book myself.

As much as these are pet peeves, they are mine and as a leader that doesn’t mean I get to simply judge others. Instead, these serve as opportunities for others and me to grow. If this stuff was easy, I wouldn’t be sharing.

What are your presenting pet peeves?

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.


  • Dave D says:

    My pet peeve is when a presenter apologizes to the audience for the presentation not being at its best for whatever reason (came in on red eye, didn’t have time for this or that, ran long and didn’t finish all the content, being hung over, …). As soon as you tell your audience they are getting less then your best you give them the impression they weren’t worth your best. Whatever is going on with you, the presenter, that is making this less than your best, keep it to yourself. Your audience has no idea this isn’t your best. They just might think it’s great. Don’t ruin it for them. Before you start any presentation clear your mind and tell yourself you are going to make it the best it can be today.

  • My pet peeve is when presenters don’t smile.
    If you’re not having fun, why should i?

  • Avatar photo Tricia says:

    Both of those are great adds to this list!

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