Giving a Presentation? Here’s How to Waste Everyone’s Time

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 03/07/2019

Many of us give presentations regularly as part of our work lives. We deliver them in staff meetings, employee meetings, client meetings, sales meetings, and in your spare time, maybe even PTA meetings.

Whether you’re in front of 150 conference attendees, a group of new interns, or a single prospective client, the last thing you want is for someone to feel like their time spent listening to you was wasted.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways you can do just that. Knowing them is half the battle. Avoiding them is the other half. Let’s start with the knowing.

Here are 4 guaranteed ways to make people regret being in the room.

1.) Show up unprepared

Unless you’ve been asked to speak at the last minute, or someone changes your topic right before your session, you have no excuse for not being familiar and confident with your material.

Showing up unprepared tells everyone in the room that your time is more important than theirs. This is not the message you want to send.

Do this instead:

  • Outline your information in a logical way
  • Prepare your presentation and materials well in advance
  • Double (and triple) check for accuracy
  • Practice until you’re confident and comfortable
  • If you’re using visuals, practice with those so it feels natural

2.) Question your own value

There’s nothing worse than attending a presentation and listening to the speaker apologize for giving you information. Or make excuses for why the presentation isn’t up to par. Or look like they want to crawl in a hole and hide.

If you don’t think you have anything worthwhile to say, why on earth would anyone else want to listen?

This is a waste of time and energy. And if time equals money, you’re wasting that, too. If you’re asking for someone’s time, you’d better be sure you’re delivering value.

Do this instead:

  • Focus on what you know. You’re the expert at something or you wouldn’t be presenting.
  • Deliver information in a way that builds confidence.
  • Channel your inner actor or actress. Just because you’re not feeling confident doesn’t mean you can’t appear to be.
  • Practice with someone you trust beforehand. Ask for feedback and make adjustments as needed.

3.) Rely on your audience to participate

Interaction is a definite plus, but you can’t assume it’s going to happen. Some audiences are open to it and some aren’t.

If you’re betting on lots of great conversation starters and questions to come flying at you, you could be in for some serious disappointment— and an awkward, painful presentation.

Do this instead:

  • Encourage healthy interaction, but don’t force it.
  • Prepare a core presentation that includes options for group participation, as well as supplemental material to fill up your time if not.
  • Have prepared answers to your own questions in case they fall on a silent crowd.

4.) Have no concept of time

This sounds so basic. And it is! But it’s also one of the most common mistakes presenters make, and one of the most effective ways to get your audience to resent you.

People have limited amounts of time and patience. If someone gives you 30 minutes of their time, don’t drone on for 45 minutes or an hour, oblivious to the clock.

Do this instead:

  • Know how long your presentation actually takes
  • Build in a cushion for comments, questions, and distractions
  • Practice until you’ve got it to a consistent length of time
  • Set a timer when you start or ask someone to give you a 5 or 10-minute warning
  • Stop at the designated time, even if you’re not finished

There may be times when your presentation is going well, and your audience genuinely wants to hear more. In that case, good for you! You must be getting it right. But even when this happens, you still need to address the time issue directly and openly. If it looks like you’re running long, ask if it’s okay to continue beyond your scheduled time frame. If the answer is yes, always make sure to give those who need to leave permission to do so.

And if you finish up a little early? Well, you’ll be even more of a hero. Because you just gave everybody the information they needed and a few extra minutes in their day.

Be a presentation hero

If you’re putting on a boring or ineffective webinar, your attendees can simply jump offline and get back to work, with limited investment and minimal disappointment. But if you’ve got actual people in the room, you really need to come through.

Your audience is counting on you to provide information that’s useful and to deliver it in a way that is credible. Don’t let them down.


At Raffa Financial, we provide long-lasting benefits strategies to take care of your business and your employees. Located in Rockville, Maryland, we identify and manage complex employee benefits challenges for businesses all over the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area.

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Photo by NejroN


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