What To Do When You Think You Have a Boring Presentation
7 Ways to Make a Dry Presentation Come AliveBy Lou Solomon
When you begin your presentation with a veiled apology like, “this is pretty dry stuff,” or sarcasm like, “I’m sure you’re dying to know about this,” you not only lose credibility, but your disclaimers are often self-fulfilling.
If you truly believe your material will bore people, you might end up rushing through the presentation and making awkward jokes. You imply, “Sorry to put you through this—I think my presentation is boring, too!” This is incredibly disenchanting for your audience. If you’re not interested in your presentation, why should we be?
Fortunately, you can turn any presentation around with the right approach. With a little effort, your audience will be engaged and responsive.
A TED Talk Using Data, Humor and Stunts!
If you’re among the presenters who are convinced that your material is too analytical to be interesting, watch Hans Rosling give his amazing TED Talk and ask yourself, is this a boring presentation?
Rosling uses stories about his great-great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter, and granddaughter to bring the social and economic change in the world to life. He also animates the data in a wonderfully creative way.
Oh, and he wraps everything up with sword swallowing–but don’t worry, you don’t have to add that to your presentation to be successful.
An Accountant Who Held the Room
Recently I heard a CPA speak to a group of her professional peers. She engaged them with the idea that the future economy depended upon everyone in the room having a different kind of conversation with their clients. She was passionate about the message. She held the attention of the entire room.
Presentations are meant to be engaging. You can always bring yours to life with the right approach. We are counting on you!
Tips for Making Your Presentation Interesting
Contrary to popular belief, being a good presenter isn’t something that you have to be born with. It is something that can be learned and practiced. You can grow the impact of your presentations. Being a good presenter requires commitment and the right strategies–not some sort of special DNA.
1) Offer Value
Having a sincere intention to deliver value is fundamental when it comes to being a trusted presenter. No one wants to sit through a sales-style pitch. Being overly charming will just make your audience suspicious. People recognize this kind of approach immediately.
2) What is Your Goal?
Are you looking to inform, inspire or entertain us? Maybe you’re sharing a compelling story to demonstrate a problem and persuade us to support a cause. No matter the case, you want to identify the real goal for your presentation. If your reason is an obligation to share dry information, you need to go back to the drawing board.
3) Keep it Simple
Speak directly and don’t use vague terms. Tell us what kind of information you are offering and why it should matter for them. Sometimes simply explaining the general value will do.
4) Use Metaphors, Illustrations and Stories
When a presenter gets on a stage and lectures us with information, that isn’t a presentation. It’s a one-sided data dump that your audience will desperately want to escape.
Information is a lot easier to understand if you eliminate the extraneous material and replace it with an example—and this is why metaphors and stories can leave such a lasting impact.
With an engaging story, you can help your audience to see the benefit of the information that you are sharing. More importantly, you can help them to create a clear memory of the information. For most of us, stories are more memorable than straight information.
Using stories about real people can have a significant impact on your audience, We are story creatures which is why we crave movies, tv shows, and books. Human-focused stories are always a hit in a presentation, especially if they bring out certain emotions.
5) What’s the Big Picture?
Before anyone can understand secondary messages, they need to have the big picture. Presenting a clearly defined big idea will help people pay attention. When they know the big picture, they will automatically be more invested in the supporting message.
One way to think of your big picture is as the theme of your presentation. What makes everything else in the presentation relevant? Finding the answer will help you build a stronger presentation. Knowing the big picture and being able to clearly articulate it can help guide your content creation as you go—and with some truly great results too!
The biggest reason that having a clearly defined big picture is so helpful for presenters is that it gives them something to refer back to. When you are presenting, you can routinely cycle back to that one main point. For your audience, this will create a more solid picture.
Instead of getting lost in the finer details, they can more clearly remember the point of the presentation and the information associated with it. It will make your presentation more consistent and approachable. Losing your audience can make it very difficult to recover a presentation, so keep everyone on the same page with this easy trick.
6) Speak from Your Experience
No one wants to listen to you share someone else’s material. You are the one source of authority we can’t get anywhere else.
Your job is to offer us your unique insights in a way that is relevant and offers value. One of the best ways to establish yourself as a trustworthy source is to focus on your own life’s experience.
When you speak from your own story, you enable the audience to see themselves in your position. You increase the likeability factor.
Adding this degree of humanness and first-hand credibility will help us to internalize our connection to the content. Be your own proof that your presentation is important and worth their time.
7) Use Vibrant Visuals
The right kind of visuals can help engage an audience. Bold photographs and colorful graphs can really help here. You should choose visuals that help increase knowledge, develop understanding and supplement your message. Visuals do not replace you, they help us see what you are saying more clearly. A well-designed visual should draw us in.
Some Closing Thoughts
Presenting isn’t a skill that most people are born with. It is learned and improved upon with practice. As you work to create a more engaging presentation style, remember to focus on your own experience and the value that you are bringing to your audience. Have a clear point of view or big idea. Share information that helps your audience and try to make it easy for them to understand. Make the phase of organizing your material a creative process, and you will find yourself enjoying presentations.
TL;DR: STOP ASSUMING THAT WE WILL BE BORED WITH YOUR MATERIAL. THERE ARE NO BORING TOPICS, ONLY BORING PRESENTERS. YOU CAN DO IT!