Worst Presentation Skills Mistakes: Why We Hate Professors

If you've gone through college, then you've most likely sat through a class where you've familiarized more with the tiles on the ceiling than the content of the course being taught.

Now, I readily admit, the inspiration for this article came from such a Marketing class. The Professor is a nice, consistent lady who consistently bores her students.

Yet, despite all the ceiling-staring, chatting and snickering at the sex notes being passed around class, the Professor scarcely seems to notice the half-dead bodies of her students beginning to 
slip out of their chairs.

Now, here's the thing. The content of the course this Professor's 

course  is highly interesting - and even slightly useful! The problem is not
with what she is teaching, but with how she is teaching it. For her
(and my safety), I'll avoid mentioning her real name.
However, for the purpose of this article, lets just call her
Professor Wrong.

If you want to avoid boring your audiences, then avoid these
presentation mistakes.

The Powerpoint Problem

Professor Wrong loves using Powerpoint presentations to
teach. Now, there's a good reason for this. Powerpoints are
great because:

(1) They help the audience keep track of what the speaker
is saying. Say, if you have a horrible Professor with a horrible
accent, at least you can always follow what s/he is saying
by looking at the Powerpoint.

(2) The Powerpoint presentations can be uploaded on the
internet so that students can refer to them and use them
after class

(3) They assist the Professor in remembering the points that s/he
has to elaborate upon.

Unfortunately, Professor Wrong uses her Powerpoint presentations
as less of an assistance and more a crutch.

How? She literally reads each slide, word for word. Each of
her slides has between 6 - 8 bullet points each, with each
bullet point having a mini-paragraph underneath.

Here's how to avoid Professor Wrong's mistakes:

Presentation Tip 1: No more than 3 bullet points per slide
If you're going to use a Powerpoint presentation, keep the
number of bullet points per slide below three. Fewer bullet
points per slide means that your presentation will cause less
strain on the audiences eyes. Plus, less text means less

Presentation Tip 2: No Paragraphs on Slides!
Do NOT insert a mini-paragraph below each bullet point. It's
difficult to read, and it's boring to stare at large chunks of text.
The less words on your slide, the better! Therefore, keep the number
of bullet points and the total number of words on each slide at a

Presentation Tip 3: Do Not Read Everything from your Powerpoint
Unfortunately, Professor Wrong makes the mistake of reading
her Powerpoint presentation word for word. To me, she's less of a
presenter and more of a highly sophisticated robot with the ability
to read from the screen.

By reading straight from the powerpoint, Professor Wrong is commiting
three sins:

  • Public Speaking Sin: The Monotone
When Professor Wrong reads straight from her slides,
her voice lacks energy and sounds unenthusiastic. Obviously.
It's hard to sound passionate when reading from a Powerpoint.
However, if Professor Wrong were to stop reading and instead
start sharing her stories [after all, she does have a wealth of
knowledge], then I believe that she'd avoid sounding so

  • Public Speaking Sin: The Monologue
Professor Wrong reads straight from the slide. She doesn't
like to ask for opinions because it would break her monologue.
Instead of consulting with her students and asking them questions
and checking to see if they understand, Professor Wrong is more
concerned about reading the slide.

  • Public Speaking Sin: No Eye Contact With the Audience
When Professor Wrong is reading from the slide, she is making no
eye contact with her students. In this way, she misses out on establishing
rapport with the students. No wonder she doesn't realize that almost
everyone is playing on their iPhone or BlackBerrry.

Public Speaking Tips

If you want to avoid being hated as much as Professor Wrong:

  • don't fall victim to the Powerpoint Problem
  • Avoid the Monotone Monologue

The Rules:
  1. No more than 3 bullet points per slide
  2. No paragraphs below bullet points
  3. Avoid reading from the slides. You'll avoid sounding monotonous.
  4. Establish rapport by making eye contact
  5. Build a relationship with your audience by asking questions and soliciting their opinions

P.S. Forward this blogpost to your Professor. For your safety, do so anonymously. Plus, go ahead and click 'Like' and share with your friends (and Professors) on Facebook.