You need to know 3 things that the audience hates and how to avoid them.
1. Reading the slides
If you put too much text on your slides, you’ll be tempted to read them. Even worse, you might turn around (away from the audience) and read straight from the screen. This is audiences’ pet peeve. They think, “Hey! I can read! They feel as if you’re ignoring them.
Solution: Use the Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method and practice so that you can deliver your presentation with just a glance at each slide. The Tell ‘n’ ShowSM method puts one point on a slide, with a simple slide title and then shows the point with an image, chart/graph, or diagram. For more information, watch this short YouTube video.
2. Saying “um” and “you know” a lot
These extra words — and others — become distracting if you use them too often. They also don’t give a professional impression. Many people have the habit of adding these unnecessary “extras” to their speech.
Solution: The only way to get rid of unnecessary words is to practice. And the only way to practice is to tape yourself and listen to the tape. Then try again. After a few repetitions, you’ll see results! Read more in this tip on getting rid of “filler” words.
3. Speaking over the heads of your audience
It’s common to see speakers look out over the heads of the audience instead of directly at them. They’re concentrating on what they have to say, so their attention is inside their own head, instead of on the people who are listening to them. The audience feels the lack of connection and so they disconnect, too.
Solution: Practice enough so you don’t need to concentrate only on what you’re saying. Meet the eyes of your audience members. If you have a large audience, pick one person at a time and then move on to another person, making sure to cover all sections of the room. Speak to each person for 1 or 2 sentences as you would if you were having a 1-on-1 conversation. In the same tip I linked to above, I have a cute, if quirky exercise that can help you learn eye contact while practicing.
In addition, I strongly recommend using interactive techniques, such as asking the audience a question or even letting them direct the flow of the presentation. Here’s a tip on one such technique, creating a menu in PowerPoint.