Fatal Donor Presentation Mistakes, Remedies

The average presentation runs approximately 20 minutes. The average presentation seems to run forever. With just 24 percent featuring interaction between the speaker and audience (beyond traditional Q&A), and a dismal 8 percent of presenters asking the audience members to interact with each other, maybe the term should be changed from “presentation” to the more apt “yawn.”

According to Andy Goodman, author of “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes,” the average grade public interest professionals gave to the presentations they attended was a C-. Goodman identified the following five most problematic factors for presentations:

  1. Reading the slides. More respondents complained about what Goodman termed the “triple play,” i.e., the same text is on the screen, read aloud, and in a handout.
  2. Too long, too much information. If a presentation is boring, even 10 minutes can seem too long.
  3. Lack of interaction. Said one respondent, “Presenters often forget that many in the audience, particularly those, say, from 35 and up, have life and work experience that is waiting to be shared. Presenters have a responsibility to mine that, direct it, and facilitate the economical sharing of that information among the group.”
  4. Lifeless presenters. Let’s face it, not everyone is made for public speaking.
  1. Room/technical problems. While sometimes unavoidable, the frequency with which respondents mentioned these problems suggests that public interest presenters often do not anticipate technical problems or fail to have a backup plan.

Now armed with the “Fatal Five,” Goodman offered several remedies: the three key characteristics that make a presentation excellent.

  1. Interaction. Nearly one in four respondents mentioned interaction — with the speaker, with other audience members, or both — as a hallmark of presentation excellence.
  2. Clarity. Said one respondent, “Clarity of three or four well-framed key points the speaker wanted the audience to take away, coupled with smart use of metaphors/anecdotes that helped the speaker drive them home.”
  3. Enthusiasm. Energy. Passion. Engaging.