The 5 most irritating things that good presenters do but great presenters don’t

We all have good and bad days as presenters. I think that complacency is a performer’s most dangerous (legal) habit. In pondering the kinds of thinking and approaches that hurt even highly skilled speakers I came up with this.

The 5 most irritating things that good presenters do, but great presenters don’t are:

1. Think that they can get away with ‘winging it’. Great presenters know that the shortcut will always show.
2. Ignore the people in the seats until the presentation starts. Great presenters honour, respect and connect with their audience as soon as they can.
3. Assume that the audience knows and/or cares who they are. Great presenters know that they have to earn their status every time they stand up to speak.
4. Ask people to save their questions until the end. Great presenters are keen to understand how the audience thinks and feels.
5. Ask questions of the audience that they know the answers to already. Great presenters are flexible enough to listen and bend.

NB. The question came to me when I started thinking, honestly, about my own performance highs and lows – Physician heal thyself! What have I missed?

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


  1. marjoriebrody

    October 22, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Jim: What an interesting list of irritating things that good presenters do, but great presenters don’t!

    I also agree that these things are irritating.

    I’d like to share 3 other things to add to your list of what good presenters do, but great presenters don’t:

    1) Good presenters often run out of time, so they feel rushed and can’t get through all their information.
    2) Many good presenters are often still too dependent on PowerPoint, which includes them listing every point on the slides.
    3) A lot of the good presenters that I coach overestimate the amount of information that audience members can absorb and retain in a given amount of time.

    Jim, please feel free to add your "two cents" to my presentation skills-related blog this week, on 10 tips to avoid succumbing to Death by PowerPoint:


  2. Sat Anlage

    December 31, 2010 at 2:41 am

    awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. jasmin holzbauer

    • Jim Harvey

      January 4, 2011 at 9:12 am


      Thanks. I have Facebook, but no Twitter.



  3. David Oldridge

    February 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    There is something in that. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you 🙂

  4. CamBoypho

    February 15, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I think you describe in more detail

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