Make your presentation less annoying

Since 2003 Dave Paradi, author of The Visual Slide Revolution and 102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint, has conducted several surveys about what annoys people the most about PowerPoint presentations. On 27 September 2011 he posted “Full Results of the Annoying PowerPoint survey” in his blog, the aptly-titled Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog. You can read his analysis of the full results in his post.

The top five annoyances, with the percentages of the 603 respondents who selected these in their top three, are

The speaker read the slides to us – 73.8%
Full sentences instead of bullet points – 51.6%
The text was so small I couldn’t read it – 48.1%
Slides hard to see because of color choice – 34.0%
Overly complex diagrams or charts – 26.0%[1]

How many of these are you doing in your presentations?

As an audio-visual technician for ten years I can attest to points 1, 3, 4, and 5 personally. So many business presentations had these issues it was embarassing. It was actually while still working in this field that I was inspired to write the article that became the post, “10 Lessons Learned from the ‘Other Side of the Microphone.’

To improve your presentation, try doing the opposite of the above top five most annoying things:

1. Don’t read your slides.

2. Don’t put too much text on your slides.

3. Use large fonts. People in the back still have to be able to see the slides.

4. Use simple, contrasting colors.

5. Simplify any charts or diagrams you use. In most cases, the audience does not need statistics precise to two decimal places on the screen. Put the exact numbers, if necessary, in the handout. Or just round up (or down).

Make your presentations less “annoying,” and people will learn more.


[1] Dave Paradi, “Full Results of the Annoying PowerPoint survey,” Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog, posted 27 Sep 2011 ( : accessed 7 Nov 2011).

4 thoughts on “Make your presentation less annoying

  1. A very true post and i agree wholeheartedly!
    The other thing i would add is “Just because Powerpoint can do it doesn’t mean you need to use it! So no sound effects and don’t have every slide flying in from different directions

  2. All great points, Michael!
    I would also add to the “annoyance list:”
    1. if you only have text, then you probably do not need to use PowerPoint at all. You are only using it as an outline of your talk. The “power” of PowerPoint is its ability to show examples, graphics and other media besides text.
    2. people who wave the laser pointer while they talk for numerous seconds, giving me a headache as my eyes are drawn to the circling and not the object of interest. When this is particularly egregious, some audience member will usually pipe up and ask the speaker to just hold the laser in place! The best speakers using a laser pointer, point to what they want you to look at (do not circle), and hold at that location.

    I have also found that when I am giving a presentaion it is usually greatly improved when I practice ahead time by saying out loud what I plan on presenting. What comes out of our mouths is often quite different from what the content of of our minds thinks we will say.

    Love your blog.

  3. Pingback: Show ‘N’ Tell: Creating Effective and Attractive Genealogy Presentations « Planting the Seeds

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