10 Ways to Avoid Presentation Failure

We’ve all sat through bad presentations – the kind that make you want to check your email or scroll through your social media. Maybe you’ve even had a presentation failure at work.  

But why do some presentations fail to engage and inspire, while others leave a lasting impression?  

Here are 10 ways to avoid presentation failure

Lack of preparation

If you haven’t put in the time to research and rehearse your presentation, it will show. You may fail to land your message, stumble over unfamiliar words, or struggle to answer questions from the audience. Make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare and practice to avoid presentation failure.

Poor structure

A poorly structured presentation can leave your audience floundering, unable to follow your train of thought, leaving them bored and disengaged.  Take time to plan.  What’s the overarching message or purpose?  What are your key points and are you providing clear evidence for each one?  Does your presentation have a logical flow? And, most importantly, do you start with a powerful opening and close strongly?

Over-reliance on slides

Slides can be powerful visual aids, but if you rely on them too heavily, you are on track for a presentation failure.  Slides should support your presentation, not drive it. You should be the focus of the audience’s attention, not your PowerPoint deck. 

Perhaps you don’t even need slides at all – many business leaders never use them.  Or think about what other visual aids you could use instead – powerful pictures, physical products, films or flip charts.

Lack of energy and enthusiasm

If you’re not excited about your presentation, your audience won’t be either.  If you look bored, they’ll feel bored.  Make sure you bring energy and enthusiasm to your talk.  Smile, make eye contact, use a strong and confident voice. 

Show that you’re passionate about your topic, that it’s important to you, that you believe what you’re saying.  Your enthusiasm will be contagious – and it will help you carry your audience with you. 

Ignorance of your audience

Have you thought about what your audience really wants and expects from your presentation?  What’s in it for them?  If you don’t take the time to understand their needs and interests, you’ll lose them.  If you lose your audience you’ll have a presentation failure.

Instead, carefully consider what matters to them, show you care about them.  Use language and examples that resonate with them.

Too much jargon

Jargon and technical language can be confusing and off-putting for your audience, especially if they’re unfamiliar with your business.  A typical presentation failure includes too much industry-specific jargon, acronyms and technical terms.  

The best presentations use simple, clear language.  Sometimes it helps to imagine that you’re a teacher, explaining difficult concepts to a teenager.  If your 15-year-old niece or nephew grasps your story, so will everyone else.

Lack of engagement

Making an emotional connection with your audience can often make the difference between a successful presentation and a failed presentation.  

Try asking questions, soliciting feedback and encouraging participation.  Get your audience involved.  Make them feel engaged.


Your presentation should reflect your personality and individual style.  If you’re too formal or stiff, it will feel as if you’re holding your audience at arms’ length, lecturing rather than informing them.  Be authentic and let your personality shine through.


There’s no point giving a technically brilliant presentation if it’s out of date or simply not appropriate for your audience. Your material should be relevant and timely. Keep it as topical as possible.  Use up-to-date data, anecdotes and examples. 

Avoid talking about things that may be interesting in their own right, but have no relevance to the subject of your presentation – or your audience may simply tune out.

No clear call-to-action

It’s important you’re clear about what you want your audience to do, think or feel at the end of your presentation.  A clear call-to-action is always the best way to close.  It may be that you want them to buy into a big change in your business, or take part in a survey.  Or you may just want to challenge them to think differently about something, or make a change in their behaviour.  To avoid presentation failure make sure your audience knows what you want them to do – and make it easy for them to do it.

How to be sure your presentation does not flop

Discover why presentations fails and avoid failed presentations.

How to Make Sure Your Presentations Don’t Flop

Great presentations take careful planning and preparation. By avoiding these 10 common pitfalls, you can create something that engages, informs, and inspires your audience.  You’ll avoid a failing presentation at work.

Remember to focus on their needs, inject energy and enthusiasm. Start strong and end with a clear call-to-action. With these simple tips, you can ensure your presentation doesn’t flop, but leaves a lasting impression.

Contact us for a free consultation on your training needs

About Benjamin Ball Associates

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email louise@benjaminball.com to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.

Contact us for a free consultation on your training needs

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

Let's talk about your presentation training needs

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

+44 20 7018 0922

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