10 Things Your Audience Hates About Your Presentation

Published on
July 1, 2016
It’s impossible to win over an audience with a bad presentation. You might have the next big thing, but if your presentation falls flat, then so will your idea.

While every audience is different, there are some universal cringe-worthy presentation mistakes that are all too common. Whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned presenter, you should always avoid this list of top 10 things your audience hates. Are you committing any of these 10 fatal presentation sins?


Presentation timing

Starting with a long intro that’s all about you

Unless you hold the title of “The Most Interesting Person in the World”, most people won’t care to sit through 10 slides of your company mission and history. Why? You haven’t given them a reason why they should care about what you have to say yet. The first few minutes of a presentation are the most crucial since your audience will be deciding then whether you’re worth paying attention to or not. Start your presentation with a quick introduction as to who you are so they have some context and then reel them in with a compelling opener. 

Data-heavy presentations

Too much focus on facts and not their emotions

Fact: you won’t score audience points with a data dump. The only way you can deliver a memorable presentation is if you appeal to people’s emotions. You might impress in the short-term with your company’s growth in sales but your audience will walk away remembering how they felt. This is where the power of storytelling comes in because people remember stories, not facts. Stories strengthen your idea by connecting you with the audience, putting them into your mindset, and making your topic more relatable.

Lack of presentation flow

Disorganized content

Poor presentation flow will quickly lose your audience’s attention. People will have a tough time understanding what you’re saying and rather than trying to decode you, they’ll just tune you right out. It’s easier to get your point across when a presentation has a natural flow and the content order makes sense. When working on a presentation, outline your content and the order that it appears first so that you can get a sense of whether it flows logically. This outline will act as a roadmap when you start hammering out your slides.

Excessive PowerPoint animations

Transition and animation overload

Transitions and animations can create emphasis and drama but using too much of them is annoying. Points flying in and out not only distracts your audience but it looks unprofessional too (it’s 2016 after all). The key is to keep it simple. Our short attention span says that we only have so much patience to sit through a presentation, so if you’re going to use them, choose one or two that are no-frills and stick with them the whole way through.

Being read to

Many presenters make the mistake of putting all their points on the slides and reading them out loud like a script. It might help an unprepared presenter but your audience will naturally read the slides, taking their focus away from what you have to say. Eliminate the amount of text on each slide down to a few key ideas so your audience will have to listen to you to derive meaning and context. The visual presentation should act complementary to your verbal presentation, which should always be the audience’s main focus.

Repetitive data visualization

Endless charts and graphs

Nothing makes people tune out faster than a presentation deck filled with uninspiring charts and graphs. You’ll spend too much valuable time having to explain to the audience what they’re looking at only to find most people won’t remember what you said. You can make more of an impact by nixing the chart or graph altogether and presenting the key takeaways you want people to remember.

Presentation content missing engagement

Lack of humor

No matter what your topic is, don’t take yourself too seriously. Humor is a powerful tool in the presenter’s toolbox because it breaks the intensity of your presentation, provides a release for the audience, and gets them over to your side. You don’t need to be a comedian to make people laugh—know your audience, draw from relevant anecdotes that will appeal to them, and practice your delivery. Humor is a muscle and the more you train, the better you’ll get at it.

Presenter has no spark in speech

Lack of passion and enthusiasm

Your audience will take cues from you. If you’re not excited about your topic, why should they be? Enthusiasm is wildly contagious but it can only start with the presenter who sets the tone for everyone else in the room. If your topic doesn’t make you explode with excitement, identify something about it that does so that your natural passion and enthusiasm for it comes out. Don’t try to fake it by being overly dramatic – your audience will see right through it.

Presentation information overload

Too much information

More information might seem better than not enough but according to the “Rule of Three”, people can only retain three points really well before their retention drops and they’ll remember less and less. Start by removing the clutter: each slide should have a clear focal point and any element – whether text or graphic, should make a strong impact. If something feels like an afterthought, redundant, or has no clear purpose, give it the boot.

Audience interaction

No engagement or interaction

Communication is a two-way street and while the presenter will be doing most of the talking, it’s important that the audience feels involved and not just acting as passive spectators. At the very least, engaging your audience will prevent them from dozing off. It can be simple gestures like eye contact, movement around the stage, or encouraging discussion during the presentation. The idea is that you’re providing another source of stimulation for your audience and keeping them focused on you rather than what’s for lunch.


Our experience and expertise tells us there are best practices and strategic tactics that contribute to impactful presentations. And then, there’s this list: red flags that are sure to take away from key messages and leave the wrong kind of impression. Keep in mind that as every audience is different, so is every presenter. We encourage you to customize your delivery and make it your own! Just don’t make these common presentation mistakes, and we’re sure your audience will walk away with more than enough things to love.

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Stinson: The Presentation Agency

What exactly do presentation agencies do?

We provide all the help you may need to design presentations that achieve your goals. This can include content consulting, presentation slide design, custom icons and illustrations, and presentation handouts—ultimately, our team of PowerPoint designers and consultants develop a comprehensive presentation solution that meets your specific needs.

Why do companies work with presentation agencies?

Consider how much time you (or your team) spend making PowerPoint presentations for meetings. Think about the back and forth over which fonts, colors, icons, and images to use. Is it okay to use bullet points? Did you use the right brand colors? Does the slide look too crowded and busy? Or does it look too plain? How do you create the look and feel that you're picturing? After the design is done, do you have enough time to practice presenting?

As presentation experts, it is our second nature to understand your goals and work with you to create the professional PowerPoint deck that you envisioned. You can learn more about our 3-phase process here.

By leaving the presentation design to an agency like Stinson, you save yourself the time and worry over the look, feel, and progression of your presentation—we make your PowerPoint presentation-ready so that you can focus on the presentation delivery.

Which presentation design service will I need?

As a presentation company, we offer every service you may need to develop your you may need to develop your PowerPoint—however, it's tough to say exactly which services of ours would benefit you the most without having chatted about your company, industry, and presentation uses.

We've generalized the scenarios that we regularly see and help our clients with. If your situation is similar to any of the below, then rest assured that our presentation experts have proven success in developing solutions.

  • You have an upcoming presentation with investors or clients. You feel your slide deck looks outdated or dull, and you don't know how to help it. You're also not sure if the content in your presentation conveys your value. View our case study where our presentation development and content consulting services helped our client achieve their investor funding goals.
  • Your company has regular internal department presentations. Everyone works on their respective slides, which are then combined into one presentation deck. The resulting PowerPoint does not have a cohesive look and somehow, there are five new shades of your corporate colors. We can help you identify your common slide layouts and design easy-to-use custom PowerPoint templates so your team members can create seamless, unified slides.
  • Your company has a great PowerPoint template that strongly reflects your branding, but your team tends to include too much text and irrelevant images on their slides. During the presentation, key messages are lost. We offer presentation training for exactly this—we'll train your team to create better slides more efficiently.

Expectations when working with us

How does partnering with a PowerPoint designer work?

Once you contact us, we'll meet with you and ask for as much context as possible regarding the project: what materials you already have, who is presenting, who is the audience, and so on—this is our Discover phase. From there, we move onto Develop and Design where we start defining the narrative and visual characteristics of your new presentation. For more details, please read our process.

How long do projects take?

Our standard turnaround for presentation development is 2–4 weeks; for custom presentation templates, our typical turnaround is 3–6 weeks. We know this is a wide range, but due to the collaborative nature of our presentation design process (i.e. asking for and incorporating your feedback), our turnaround time also relies on your responsiveness and availability. We do offer a rush service if your timelines are short.

How much does a presentation design cost?

We price on a project-by-project basis, involving a number of key factors outlined in our pricing model. However, we do require a minimum project cost of $1,500.

We often see companies that do not have budget allocations for presentation design and are hesitant to make the initial investment. We understand—at first, it can be difficult to see the value and difference a well-designed, practical presentation can make. For our clients that started in this situation, we worked on a smaller pilot test project; when they saw the positive ROI of the presentation, they were able to secure larger budgets and found more presentations that needed our help.

What are the final files that I will receive?

All of our final PowerPoint (or other presentation software) deliverables are shared with you in its native, editable file format. We are also able to provide a PDF or video version of your presentation if you would like.

Any presentation collateral we design for your project is shared as a ready-to-print PDF, unless if you specify a different preference.

Have you worked with other clients in my industry? Can you share related samples?

Our list of clients spans a wide range of industries, some of which we hadn't known of prior to the client's project. Since our approach involves familiarizing ourselves with the client's business and industry, we've become a team of jacks-of-all-trades for industry knowledge.

We're able to share blinded, industry-specific samples of presentations that our clients have consented to. Contact us if you're interested!


Aside from PowerPoint, do you work in Google Slides? Keynote? Prezi?

Yes! While we prefer designing PowerPoint presentations due to its robust features that let us create advanced designs, we've created custom presentation designs in Google Slides and Keynote at our clients' request.

We generally do not design presentations in Prezi since it does not support the level of design customization that we need for our clients. Instead, we use PowerPoint to create the same animations and layouts that are characteristic of Prezi presentations—you can view examples in our portfolio.

Will we run into issues if we use Mac and/or Windows PC?

There are some differences in functionality between PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows—but these are not for your concern! We use both Mac and Windows computers at Stinson, so we're able to ensure cross-device compatibility with every PowerPoint presentation we design. During our initial call with you, we'll ask you for these tech specs so that we know to bear them in mind when working on your project.

Does it matter which version of PowerPoint we use?

Yes; the latest versions of PowerPoint have new functions and features that earlier versions of PowerPoint cannot load. We'll take note of your tech setup to ensure that our presentations for you run as intended.

Designing with branding

How are you able to design with our company's brand?

If you have any brand guidelines, we ask you to provide them early on in the process so that we can familiarize ourselves not only with your logos, colors, and fonts, but the overarching brand tone. Our collaborative process includes rounds of revision for you to provide your feedback on the presentation design.

Are you able to design within our very strict corporate brand guidelines?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are companies with well-established brand identities. We do our due diligence to maintain the integrity of their branding when designing their presentations and collateral.

Strict brand guidelines do not necessarily restrict the possibility of creating a sophisticated PowerPoint; our presentation designers thoughtfully use photos, animations, and other visuals to build the story.

We don't have concrete branding yet or we're in the process of updating our brand. Can you work without defined brand elements?

Yes! When we work with clients who are still ironing out the details of their branding, we ask them to provide us any materials they have already and to share their design inspirations. From there, we lay out moodboards of different tones and styles to see which resonates the most with what our client has in mind.


We have highly sensitive information. Will my data remain confidential?

Absolutely—we respect the proprietary nature of businesses, and enforce a strict confidentiality policy company-wide. From the first point of contact with you, we assume a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); we are happy to sign your company's NDA as well.

Where do you store my files and data?

All of our files are stored securely in an industry-leading content server. The server exceeds regulatory standards and encrypts each file using AES 256-bit encryption in diverse locations.

Additionally, the Stinson team works completely in-house, so your files will not cross borders.

How secure is my data?

We take data security seriously. We enforce numerous internal policies and procedures to ensure that Stinson continues to meet compliance and security standards for data protection, including multi-factor authentication for all company accounts and access restrictions.

Stinson Design logo icon

We’d love to hear about your project.

Complete the form below and one of our consultants will reach out within 24 hours.

Thank you!
Your request has been received.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
This site uses cookies and similar technologies to analyze traffic.
Learn more about how we use cookies