Presentations fall into one of two categories: they are either good or they are bad. Rarely is a presentation sort of… meh. And the ones that may initially come across as meh or just okay, upon further reflection end up in the “bad” category.
What do you suppose is the number one cause of ‘just okay’ (AKA bad in disguise) presentations is? If you guessed, “They are boring,” you should treat yourself to a latte later this afternoon.
Why are Boring Presentations Really Bad?
Well, for starters, a boring presentation will cause your audience to tune you out and check their phones instead. Your audience will become a sea of zombies, eyes glazed over and completely unreachable.
But the real reason boring presentations are bad, is because they are reputation killers. It only takes one boring presentation for word to get out. Suddenly your phone stops ringing, the emails dry up, and you are never again invited to speak at an industry event. And that’s unfortunate because public speaking is one of the ABSOLUTE BEST WAYS to grow your business or further your career.
No Topic is Boring
Too often presenters will blame their topic for their own lack of pizazz. They claim that topics like economics, marketing, Big Data, sales, or quality assurance (or fill in the blank with your own topic) aren’t sexy enough. They think that if only they had a non-boring topic that they would have killed.
That argument is not watertight. In fact, English philosopher G.K. Chesterton got it right when he posited there are no dull topics; only disinterested audiences. Touché, G.K., touché.
In other words, any topic can be interesting so long as you present it in an interesting way.
With this in mind, here are 5 ways you can transform your seemingly boring topic into an engaging presentation.
1. Be Passionate About Your Own Topic
If you think your own topic is boring, how likely is it anyone in the audience will disagree with you? Not very. It is impossible for others to find your topic interesting when you yourself are bored to tears.
The first rule of presentations is to make sure you are sharing information you are passionate about.
There is something called the Social Curiosity Driver. When some people show interest in something, other people get curious about it. This is how crowds form around street performers. First one or two people find the street performer interesting and begin to watch. Then other passers-by become curious what the people are so interested in and they stop and watch, and so on. Before you know it, a crowd of 100 people has formed.
When you are really and truly interested in your own topic, others will AUTOMATICALLY become curious and they will want to pay attention to what you have to say.
2. Tell a Story
Human beings are hardwired to engage with stories. Stories are a part of our evolution. Stories are how we shared knowledge and information before the written word. Your audience will find it completely natural to tune into and relate to a story than they will random facts.
You can share a story you heard from a co-worker, a story you saw on the news, or of course, something from your personal life to illustrate a point and outline your overall message. The more stories you weave into your presentation, the more people will sit up and pay attention.
3. Get the Audience Involved
Your audience can hardly be bored when they are involved in the presentation. Be inspired! Call people up on stage and use them for a demonstration. Ask the audience questions and for a show of hands. The more you interact with the audience, the more engaged they will be.
4. Don’t Talk About Data
We’re not suggesting that data and statistics aren’t important, we merely saying don’t talk about them. Go ahead and type out your data and put it on a background slide so people can refer to the stats at their leisure. But no audience member wants you to tell them what they can read for themselves.
5. Don’t be Robotic
Beyond reading stats off of a slide, you should never read your presentation. Talk about boring! Also, try not to memorize your speech, because even though you are not technically reading, it will still come off as presenting it by ‘rote’ and you will sound robotic.
To be engaging, no matter what the topic, go off script. Don’t read, don’t memorize. Simply know the points you want to cover, practice speaking beforehand, but then just talk naturally to your audience. It won’t seem like a presentation but more like an actual conversation you are having with them.
There truly are no boring topics, but there are disinterested audiences. To win your audience over be passionate about your own topic, tell stories, get the audience involved and don’t read off of your slides. By following these tips you can make any topic engaging.