Bad Presenter Behavior

This morning as I was looking over my LinkedIn Connection requests, I had an invite from someone I don’t know personally but that I share over 10 contacts with, so I took a closer look at her profile. While she had an excellent introduction paragraph to showcase her copywriting skills, there was something really ugly below – her portfolio. On the cover of the only presentation document in this portfolio was one of those awful stock handshake images.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 10.23.10 AMAll the creative one-liners in the world will not bring your reputation back if I see this stock handshake in your portfolio or presentation. It’s so cliche and it says nothing. The hands are always white, man hands. Somehow people were randomly caught in this magical moment. In reality, some white dudes in suit jackets held hands all morning in a green room.

Of course, this got me thinking about presentations in general. As a persistent consumer of content, despite quality, I see a lot – and I mean a LOT – of bad presentations. I have started to believe it’s far more likely that a presentation will suck than provide any level of quality.

As my way of giving back to this community of terrible content creators, there are a few suggestion I’d like to make to help you avoid terrible presenter behavior.

  1. Don’t use crappy stock photography. Just because you work for some stuffy corporate entity, doesn’t mean you need to have veiny man hands on the cover of your presentation.
  2. On the same hand, don’t use a meme on every slide. We’re here to learn, this isn’t some half-assed tumblr live demonstration.
  3. Don’t present statistics without citations or I think they’re bullshit instantly. This also goes for citing data that’s more than 5 years old. A lot has changed in 5 years.
  4. Don’t spend more than a minute telling me who you are. I don’t actually care about the big company you work at, I care about the lessons I’m supposed to learn. If you say your company name more than 10 times in anything besides a case study,minus 100 points.
  5. Don’t start by “diving right in.” Tell me a story. Give context. Give me a reason to start listening or I’m going to read my e-mail and check the hashtag for tweets from a more interesting session.
  6. Don’t pull a bait and switch. If you tell people you’re going to talk about candidate experience and it’s basically a big ol’ software demo, you’re an asshole.
  7. Do not transition slides with “next slide.” Get a fucking remote or, if you’re on a webinar, control your own slides. If you can’t operate powerpoint in 2016,  I don’t believe you can teach me much.
  8.  Do not overwhelm the slides. More than 30 words on a slide is probably too much, as a general rule of thumb. You are the presenter. Present the information, don’t make the slide do the work for you.

That’s where I’ll start, although I’m sure I can think of more. What’s the worst presentation behavior you’ve seen?

sit the fuck down presenter

Job Search Advice social media strategy

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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