5 Worst Ways to Begin a Presentation


You’ve been there. You’re excited about the presentation you are going to listen to. The speaker bio indicates the speaker is experienced and knowledgeable about the topic. The speaker is introduced. They start their presentation and then …

All of your enthusiasm seeps out through your pores!


Because the speaker began with one of the five worst ways to begin a presentation!

Every speaker needs to use the first 30 seconds to engage the audience – that’s when audience members typically decide if the presentation is worth their time and attention or not.

I bet you’re wondering what those ‘worst ways’ are, aren’t you?

No need to prolong the agony, here they are . . .

Worst Ways to Begin Your Presentation

1.    Re-Introducing Yourself.

If you have just been introduced, there is no need to re-introduce yourself, but it appears many people don’t understand that. The emcee may have introduced you, the audience likely read your name on the program (or agenda), your name is on the title slide that is on display, therefore it is safe to conclude the audience KNOWS your name. Do not tell it to them, again! UGGGHH!

2.    “I’m Nervous.”

It doesn’t really matter if you are nervous or not, you still have to give your presentation. Many presenters feel nervous but they are able to manger their energy and the audience doesn’t even know – so don’t bother telling them. The audience can’t do anything about your nervousness. Sometimes nervousness comes through by way of a shaky voice, or hand wringing etc, and in that case, the audience can see you are nervous so you don’t need to reinforce it by telling them. In any case, the audience is there to hear you speak, whether you are nervous or not.

3.    “I’m Sick.”

I’ve seen presenters begin their talk by saying “I have a bad cold” or “I’m not feeling well so I won’t be speaking very loudly.” Huh?? When you have the honour of speaking to a group, don’t make excuses for a lousy presentation. The audience does not need to know if you don’t feel well, just like you don’t need to know if they don’t feel well. It doesn’t matter if you have a sore throat or a broken toe, if you are there to speak, muster up your energy and give the best presentation you can, without excuses!

4.    “This is Going To Be Hard.”

If you want to ensure something is going to be hard, then begin by telling your audience, “This will be hard!” In that way, they don’t even get a chance to decide for themselves how hard it may be, because you have already decided for them. As an aside, not many people want to hear something is going to be hard for them. Even if you think it will be hard, give your audience the benefit of the doubt and let them decide for themselves. You don’t need to pre-determine their experience.

5.    “How Is Everyone?”

The absolute worst way to begin a presentation is by saying, “How is everyone?” and then when the audience gives a feeble response (which they likely will), saying, in a louder voice, “I said, how is everyone?” and expecting the audience to respond with loud enthusiasm. This is the speakers’ ego taking over and demanding the audience have immediate enthusiasm for them. Unfortunately, as a speaker, when you haven’t given them anything to be enthusiastic about (and trust me, asking a group how they are, is not an energizing question), they are not likely to engage with you. It’s more likely they will disengage from you.

That’s it!

Those are the five must-avoids when beginning a presentation.

Since you’ve read this far, you now have ‘No excuses’ for beginning a presentation, in the ‘worst way.’


Learn, Laugh, Share

Barb Langlois



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  • Our workshop participants found Barb’s approach to teaching at the Centre for Professional Development to be dynamic and engaging.  Barb not only taught effective communication and presentation skills, but also role modelled techniques throughout the day. Participants were excited to be able to apply learning’s directly into their day to day roles

    Leasa Knechtel

    Associate Director at the Centre for Professional Development, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.

  • Your plenary session was a real asset and a great contribution to the success of our National IPAC Conference. From beginning to end participants were energized and actively engaged.


    Gwyneth Meyers BSc, MSc, PhD

    Scientific Committee Chair

  • “The workshop was wonderful!! Barb walked the talk by continuously demonstrating the tips and skills she was teaching! It was amazing to see it all come together. I would recommend the workshop to anyone who has to present.”

    Bev Waite, Education Lead-Nursing,

    Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

  • I told one of the nurse educators that it was the best 3 hours I have spent in a training session as the content was clear, relevant, exactly enough to be able to incorporate into presentations, and you demonstrated each point which was great. It was watching an expert at work.

    Aideen Carroll, Advanced Practice Nurse Educator

    Toronto General Hospital

  • Your workshop was also a big hit. It was interesting to hear people talk about it as not good, but great.

    Debbie Ross

    CMP Manager of Governance and Events CNA

  • After working with Barb, our team returned to work energized, enthused and inspired to utilize tools that increase our communication, clarity and relationship with not only each other, but also with the residents and families that we serve. I would highly recommend Barb if you want to bring out the best in your team.

    Dale Clements, Administrator

    Columbus Residence

  • Barb Langlois led a wonderful one day workshop for 45 Clinical Nurse Educators in Saskatoon Health Region. She worked with us in advance to really understand our learning needs, Six months later, I see CNEs using Barb’s techniques to engage learners and I use them myself in my own presentations. I strongly recommend Barb – she is a very skilled facilitator who connects with learners in a very meaningful and effective way.

    Margot Hawke RN, BSN, MCEd, Nursing Professional Practice Lead

    Saskatoon Health Region


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