7 Things No One Wants to See in a Presentation

7 Things No One Wants to See in a Presentation


Similar to the actual Seven Deadly Sins, the Seven Deadly Presentation Sins run rampant in PowerPoints across this land. These written crimes might not lead to your arrest, but they have the ability to bore your audience to a metaphorical death. Know your enemy and familiarize yourself with these “fatal-ish” no-no’s:

1. An Infinity Loop of Jargon – “Empowered core competency,” “a turn-key pioneer in creating effective learning situations,” “actionable baselines,” …all of these phrases sound important yet convey nothing. They are nonsensical jargon fluff that people feel necessary to make their presentation “professional,” but in reality make everyone roll their eyes way back in their noggin. Consider that the world-changing Steve Jobs used a 5th grade vocabulary when he spoke; there is really no need to try and bulk up a deck with jargon. 

2. Painful Blocks of Text – When I open up a presentation and see a size 10 block of text, I shudder and make a “ugh” sound. If you have important, detailed instructions on a process (like a recipe), then include a handout in your presentation. Slides are no place to copy-paste your latest novella. 

3. Run-On Bios That Feel Like (Bad) Oscar Acceptance Speeches – You and your team have probably done great things in your life. You’ve seen The Great Wall of China, you made lots of money on a side company that sells cupcakes, and you went to a trillion places for school. None of that needs to really be in your presentation, however. It’s not a resume. Save your bragging for Thanksgiving dinner, not on a slide. 


4. Blinding Charts and Graphs – Neon green colors, unreadable fonts, eek! Don’t make your charts and graphs feel like they belong in a kindergarten class or on an SAT. No one wants to have a terrible flashback during a presentation. 

5. Creepy Stock Photography – If it looks like someone could make a meme about the stock photo: they can, they will, or they have. Beware of creepy smiles, dead stares, unnatural situations, or just plain silliness. 

6. Teeny Tiny Font – Maybe I need glasses, but anything that I can’t see from the back of the room or even on my computer screen is too small. You shouldn’t catch anyone in the audience squinting to see content (or images!) on a slide. 

7. Terrible Jokes – You’d be surprised how many puns lurk within the shadows of most presentations. While sometimes a little humor can work, they often feel like a sour note if they don’t match the tone of the existing deck. Trust me, there is nothing fun or enjoyable about a pun or “dad joke” if the presentation is about open heart surgery. 

Are you feeling the pangs of guilt? Fear not, there is redemption from these Seven Sins for those who ask. And then after asking, edit their presentation to ensure none of these seven show up anywhere. Hallelujah!
About Author
Sunday Avery

Sunday Avery is the Content Manager at Ethos3, a Nashville, TN-based presentation boutique providing professional presentation design and training for national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to branded individuals like Guy Kawasaki. Her life passions are books, brewing beer, and presentations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *