5 mistakes to avoid with event presentations

It doesn’t matter how good the canapés and gift bags are if the presentations are a total flop.
Article by Emma Bannister, founder and CEO of Presentation Studio

 

Presentations can be the make or break of an event.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good the canapés and gift bags are if the presentations are a total flop.

On the other hand, an event which showcases creative, content-driven and professionally delivered presentations is likely to be remembered well.

Presentations are a chance to capture your audience’s attention and deliver your event’s message loud and clear. But, there are some common pitfalls of event presentations.

Keep an eye on this list of mistakes as you prepare your next event presentation – to ensure your content delivers.

1. Same old, same old

The most common mistake event presenters make is banality. It’s easy to take the chance to present for granted. You simply whip up a last minute deck and use your standard script. This is a sure-fire recipe for an under achieving presentation.

Events are an excellent chance to try something new. A new audience, new context and new event should mean new content. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is rehashing an old deck for a new event. Think outside the box and push yourself to present something fresh.

2. Unprepared Speaker Syndrome

USS (Unprepared Speaker Syndrome) is a mistake you want to avoid for your event presentations. The symptoms are: over reliance on notes, lots of stutters and fumbles, or a presentation that is too long or too short. The result: a disengaged audience.

Event presentations given by unprepared presenters are always a disappointment. A presenter who isn’t confident makes an audience uncomfortable. They won’t trust what you’re saying, let alone be convinced by your message, if your presenter isn’t confident. That’s why speaker preparation is essential in the lead up to your event.

3. Chalk and cheese

If the content or tone of your presentation doesn’t match the rest of the event, your presentation won’t be a success. For example, if the event is inspiring and uplifting, and your presentation is a sombre affair, you have missed the mark.

If the event aims to raise awareness for environmental issues, don’t use paper hand-outs. Similarly, a presentation on international business strategy isn’t the right fit for an event supporting local community business initiatives. Avoid these mistakes by ensuring clear communication between event organisers and presenters.

4. Audience mismatch

Just as your event and presentation need to match – your audience must be a big part of the equation too. One of the most common event presentation mistakes is a lack of audience consideration.

Talk to the event planners and get an understanding of who is coming to this event. Then, be sure to tailor your presentation to this audience. If the audience is going to be filled with young people at the start of their careers, your content will be different than it would be for a group of seasoned professionals.

5. Lack of creativity

The event scene is not what it was ten years ago. Events are fun! They are often a time for interaction and experimentation. They aim not just to engage and inform, but to entertain too. Your presentation needs to fit this description.

A common event presentation mistake is a simple lack of creative thinking. If your presentation methodology and style haven’t changed majorly in the last decade, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Today’s event-goers expect more. They expect expert information presented in a truly engaging way. Think (or re-think!) narrative structure, presenter choice, tone of voice, visuals and levels of interaction.


Events are a chance to showcase what you do best. Whether you’re hosting the event or visiting as a keynote speaker, be sure to squeeze the opportunity for everything you can.

Often, simple mistakes stand in the way of success. Things like unprepared speakers, uncreative presentation methods and content which simply misses the mark can be the undoing of your event.

Keep this list of mistakes on your desk – and as you prepare for your next event presentation, go through it again to make sure you’ve avoided these pitfalls. Events can be a wonderful chance to shine, if you walk into them with some solid strategies for success.

Avoiding these mistakes is the first step to a truly memorable presentation.

Emma Bannister is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of the book ‘Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations’.

One thought on “5 mistakes to avoid with event presentations

  1. and…don’t just read out the text on the screen, a presenter is there to put it into context I think!

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