12 ways to piss off your audience

Why make an effort for your audience when you can just piss them off?

Too difficult, you say? Not at all!

There are so many things you can do to anger, frustrate and confuse an audience. If you’re struggling for ideas, the 12 tips below—individually or in combination—are sure to do the trick.

1.  Talk about something completely off point. Why speak about something relevant to the audience when there are so many other things to discuss? Just go on Google. There are millions of things to talk about.

2.  Don’t prepare. Who says you have to prepare? Just show up and wing it.

3.  Arrive late. It’s dramatic and it makes a statement. You’re busy and you’re going to make sure that people adjust to your schedule.

4.  Use crappy slides. Lots of them. If you need guidelines, these should do:

  • Only text. No images.
  • At least 60 words per slide. Bonus points for every slide with more than 75 words.
  • Small font. Nothing over 16 point.
  • Feature your business logo prominently on every damn slide.

5.  Talk fast. Pretend that you’re an auctioneer at some local fair. If anyone asks you to slow down, politely explain that you feel the need for speed. Alternatively, suggest that people listen faster. If you can also mumble, the effect is enhanced.

6.  Talk about yourself and your accomplishments and stress how wonderful you are. You are wonderful and people should know. Do this for an extended period of time.

7.  Use lots of acronyms and obscure references and assume that everyone knows what you are talking about.

8.  Don’t look at the audience. There are so many other things to see: the floor; your shoes; your hands; the ceiling; your slides (see Point 4 above); whatever is outside the window.

9.  Maintain a closed body language. Cross your arms, put your hands in you pockets or just hug yourself. Scowling enhances the effect.

10.  Go over time. A good rule of thumb is that for every 15 minutes you are allotted, you should speak for at least five extra minutes. Thus, if you have one hour to speak, speak for one hour and 20 minutes. Minimum.

11.  If there is a Q&A and someone asks a silly question, mock them.

12.  If you promise to do something after you speak, don’t follow up. Ever. You’re too busy (see Point 3 above) and besides, you have to get ready for your next audience.

Yes, if you want to piss off your audience, the 12 tips above will work wonders.

Then again, perhaps making an effort isn’t such a bad idea after all.


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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4 Responses to 12 ways to piss off your audience

  1. This is hilarious! Love the suggestions to say “listen faster”, to hug yourself, and to mock people for asking silly questions. (Reminds me that “there’s no such thing as a silly question – only silly questioners!”)

    On the subject of wordy slides, often people put way more than 75 words on a slide. For instance, recently I saw a deck where some slides had 150-200 words on them, in 9-point text (and that seems quite common).

    Sometimes presenters seem to think that if they’ll present online, that’s an excuse for wordier slides. After all, the audience will have the slides right in front of them! For example, Ellen Finkelstein suggested you could use a webinar slide in lieu of a handout. But I argue that there’s rarely good reason for that.

    Anyway, great post. I can’t help wonder if you had particular presentations in mind when you wrote it! (My next post, scheduled for next week, looks at 25 presenter mistakes. So it’s along similar lines, though without the humour!)

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks, Craig. Glad you enjoyed it. I figured, why not come at the issue from a different angle? As for having lots of words on a slide, this slide is one of the worst that I have seen. Then again, there is also this beauty from the US military.

      • Yikes! That “tipping point” slide is a shocker. Not just a wall of text, but poor contrast with the white background, too.

        BTW, thought you might enjoy that video on 25 presenter mistakes that I mentioned. Comments (even with links) are always welcome.

        The speaker (Michael Port) was once an actor, so he sees speaking as a performance. I’m also enjoying Olivia Mitchell’s advice, which plays down that extrovert approach. (The stark contrast’s interesting, though a bit perplexing!)

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