Don’t Let These 10 Types of Presenters Ruin Your Next Event!

Tony Compton, Managing Director

I’ve watched presentations of all shapes and sizes over the past 30 years.

And I’ve also given a few presentations.

I thought about these 10 over a cup of coffee.

I also thought about another 10 for another time.

And another 20, very good – if not outstanding – presentation types.

But I thought I’d start with these.

Share your own, and add the ones you’ve experienced to this list if you’d like.

1. The Superhero

The show can’t go on without the Superhero. At least that’s what this presenter thinks. Trouble for the Superhero is that the show will go on, if necessary, without their presentation. The Superhero believes that all other presentations are inferior. Yes, the Superhero may be a headliner. Yes, the Superhero may be a keynote. But even if the Superhero’s flight to the next conference is delayed or canceled, life will go on. Never display the attitude that your presence at an event will “save the day” for attendees. The audience will survive, with or without you. Be humble.

2. Captain of The Rudderless Cluster

You’ll encounter this presenter more on virtual presentations vs. in-person sessions. With virtual presentations, there’s usually a defined period of ‘single’ presentation time: 30, 60, or 90-minutes. The “captain” is the one that’s supposed to lead a session that involves multiple presenters. When there’s a lack of coordination on a presentation with multiple speakers, the presentation goes astray by becoming disjointed, erratic, and long-winded. Instead of taking charge, the “captain” leads a rudderless presentation that goes nowhere.

3. The Opinionated

Not that having a business opinion or an industry point of view is a bad thing, but the opinionated can take it too far. This presenter can get personal, critical, and preachy. They’ll even tell you who they support in the upcoming election, even though the business attendees in the audience are there to learn something – not get a political lecture, guilt trip, or twisted arm. Stick to the business issues, and leave opinions on personal matters at the door.

4. The Ill-Prepared Substitute

The ill-prepared substitute is magnanimous in stepping-in for another speaker, but that doesn’t excuse that person from the required presentation preparation work. Simply obtaining another’s slides and materials without proper review and preparation doesn’t work. And standing in front of a crowd and saying “I just got this material because my colleague can’t make it…” isn’t an excuse. Only sub for another speaker if you can do the job.

5. The Time Indifferent

The speaker that doesn’t start the webinar until five minutes after the top of the hour. The long-winded presenter that talks 15 minutes too long and cheats the next presenters out of their time. The group of presenters that trickle one-by-one onto a virtual presentation and make everybody wait. Then they shoot the breeze with chit chat and waste even more time. When 60 minutes isn’t really 60 minutes, you know the time indifferent have arrived. Respect schedules. Be on time.

6. The Panelist and The Moderator

It’s the Fall event season which means panel discussions. Lots of ‘em. And I have thing for panel discussions. Bad panel discussions. Poorly planned and poorly executed panel discussions. You’ll see three types of panel set-ups: those with panelists in cheap hotel conference room chairs, in airport-lounge quality padded chairs that you would never have at home, or on stools. Panelists sit, moderators drone on and ask softball questions. The audience sits and stares. The energy quickly dissipates. The panel comes off as if they’re testifying before Congress. Look at the body language during panel discussions. There are so many ways to be creative and engaging above and beyond tired panel discussion formats!

7. The Salesperson

Is it an educational presentation? Dunno. Will I learn something in this session? Maybe. But sometimes the presentation abstract that tells attendees that they’re going to take away the “Top 3 ways to measure return on marketing investments” can be nothing more than a cover story for a thinly-veiled vendor sales pitch. And when a co-presenter from an end-user client company in your industry doesn’t turn up for a session, watch out. When a vendor goes solo on a session, the sales pitch can’t be far behind.

8. The Up-Sell/Cross-Sell Salesperson

This is different than the ‘salesperson’ giving the thinly-veiled sales pitch. This is when you’ve bought and paid for products and services from a company, and ask for counsel, advice, or insight into meeting challenges you’re having – after you bought whatever they’re selling that was supposed to help. The Up-Sell/Cross-Sell Salesperson will tell you that need to buy more, or something different, or a product from a partner, or a service from another division to fix whatever your problem is. People don’t appreciate it when they’re told that whatever they originally bought won’t completely solve their problems, and that they need to spend more. That helpful presentation just turned into a sales pitch.

9. The Robot

A relative of the substitute, The Robot is somebody who will find a presentation, its slides, and 2012-dated format on an internal portal or “borrow” it from a colleague and regurgitate, everything. This mechanical presenter will prepare but inevitably start with slides entitled “Overview, History, Review, or Background.” Then a company timeline dating back to 1895 will be inserted. Next, somebody else’s content makes up the majority of the presentation. The conclusion? The same old boring stuff on visiting a website, booth, or another generic call to action. You’ll know this person when you see this same presentation and format again, if you stay awake long enough.

10. The Enthusiasm Enforcer

This is the presenter that pounces on stage and screams “HELLO Chi-ca-go!” only to have the unsustainable pep rally injection wear off and yield to a monotone drone about data-driven software platforms for the next 59 minutes. Passion is great, but phony enthusiasm is a turn-off. There’s no reason to scream, yell, or shout at your audience to artificially pump up the excitement.

My next post will explore other types of presenters such as The Mumbler, The Wannabe Statistician, The Insider, and The Content-Driven Presenter. After, I’ll share some thoughts on some of the best presenters I’ve seen and what made their sessions special.

Without slides.

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