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Ten Top List of Things Not to Do When Giving a Presentation

Here is the eighth installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not To Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.

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10. When giving a presentation, do not sweep your eyes across the room, trying to make almost simultaneous eye contact with your audience. The movement to include everyone at opposite ends of the room will only give you motion-sickness and your audience will wonder if your green color source is contagious.

9. When giving a presentation, do not lock eyes with any single individual  in the audience.  You will likely be giving that person a creepy feeling, cause them to search the sexual offenders registry on their iPhone, and miss your presentation titled:  Donald Trump, a Cultural Icon.

8. When giving a presentation, if your presentation is mid-morning or afternoon, do not try to drink up your courage in the form of Bloody Marys or Mimosas at breakfast.  Combine drunkenness with #10 and you may project  your presentation and breakfast onto the first row of your audience.

7. When giving a presentation, if your presentation is first thing in the morning, do not try to drink up your courage the night before with double shots of whiskey or a running tab of dirty gin martinis.  Combine a hangover with #10 and you may wind up like #8.

6. When giving a presentation, do not wear clothes that you only just received in the mail and have not yet tried on.  You don’t need your presentation to be the moment when you discover that you ordered two sizes too large and the audience becomes more interested in watching you try to keep your clothes on than in your slides of the migratory habits of snails.

5. When giving a presentation, do not wear a suit that you haven’t worn for several years.  Chances are you forgot to dry clean it and you still have whiskey  and other unidentifiable stains and smells from the wake where you wore it last.  This would distract from your presentation on the sleeping habits of woodchucks.

4. When giving a presentation, do not make large arm movements while you’re holding a laser pointer.  Your audience might become more engrossed in trying to spot the red dot flying around the room than anything you have to say on quantum mechanics.

3. When giving a presentation, do not forget to go to the bathroom in the half-hour before the start of the presentation.  Even if you don’t think you need to go, you need to go.  Otherwise, your audience might become more entertained watching you try to maintain your balance while squeezing your thighs together, than they are by your discussion of the role of cupcakes in the mating habits of squirrels and chipmunks.

2. When giving a presentation, if you are mindful enough to avoid #3, then do not leave the restroom without first checking to see that no toilet paper is stuck to your shoes or in your underwear.  You don’t want the audience to start placing bets on when you may notice the trail of TP from the restroom down the hall to your shoe or backside when they should be paying attention to your discussion of 101 ways to tie a tourniquet.

1. When giving a presentation, do not put your soda or any other beverage on the podium above the laptop that you are using.  Chances are you will at some point knock the drink over onto the laptop, causing it to shutdown, your presentation to disappear, and your investment in the presentation to be increased by the cost of one very expensive computer.

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Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

8 replies

  1. Marie You hit the nail on the head. I have to relate one time I was scheduled for an eight o’clock presentation at the Conference Board in New York. I arrived to my hotel late due to weather and then spent some time with old friends. I got up in the morning and prayed for someone to take me then. I gave the presentation and then when it was finished a man came up to me and said, “having witnessed your good time last night I must congratulate you on being able to stand let alone deliver a first class presentation.” I simply thanked him and remarked that ” any fool can give a good presentation when well rested and not hung over. It takes a real pro to pull off what I just did.” We both laughed. Well done on this.


  2. Marie, I’d like to add another tip for you to consider. It’s one that I teach my students at the and that is to enjoy the experience. Most people get nervous because they (falsely) believe that their audience wants to see them make a mistake and deliver a bad presentation. Nothing could be further from the truth! No one enjoys seeing a bad speech or presentation. I remind my students that your audiences wants you to succeed and do well!!!


  3. Nothing about not wearing a red, see-through teddy from Fredericks of Hollywood? I found out the hard way that is not a good look for me at conferences.


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