About the only thing worse than watching a presentation that is fun and engaging is… actually, there is nothing worse. Anyone can create a great presentation, but it takes a certain set of skills and determination to create a presentation that is painful to watch.
Here are 7 hacks to help you do just that:
1. Make it Really Long
No one wants to sit through a presentation that is short and sweet and gets right to the point. People generally like presentations that are long and meandering. Shoot for an hour or longer (two hours is perfect). When in doubt whether your speech is long and painful enough, add 20 minutes of information that is entirely unrelated to your core ideas.
Some people may tell you that famous orators throughout history have given presentation that were condensed and succinct. Our reply would be, “Yeah, and they’re all dead, so how much can they really know?”
2. Do NOT Break the Ice
Breaking the ice when you begin a presentation is completely overrated and unnecessary. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it is ‘so yesterday.’ You never want to establish rapport or trust or set yourself up as an authority, and breaking the ice has a way of doing that.
Instead, take measures to keep the atmosphere awkward and, if you can make the audience feel hostile toward you, all the better. The best way to do this is to avoid getting any kind of emotional response out of your audience. Use language that makes them feel absolutely nothing and do not under any circumstance be personal.
- Crack jokes
- Tug on their heart strings
- Use bold language
- Tell a personal story
- Use metaphors or draw comparisons
3. Make Things Complicated
By not breaking the ice at the beginning of your presentation you have set yourself up nicely for the next step, which is to confuse your audience by making all of your core concepts as complex and unintelligible as possible. One fairly easy way to do this is continually deviate from your points. A second way to do this is to not have any points to begin with.
Many young presenters make the mistake of having a game plan to follow, but this is absolute presentation death. For painful presentations you will want to ensure you move from one point to the next in an illogical manner, never coming to an overall conclusion.
4. Avoid Humor Like the Swine Flu
Another common mistake many presenters make is using humor throughout their speech. Ugh. There really is nothing worse for your audience than making them laugh. Look, they’ve spent money and taken time out of their day to hear you speak. Don’t disrespect them by being funny or witty. That’s not what they’re there for. They’re there to be subjected to a painful experience, so give them one.
5. Don’t Practice
The only thing worse than having a game plan for your presentation is practicing it out loud in front of a mirror. You don’t want to know how you look or sound before the big day because that would give you time to tweak and adjust, and tweaking or adjusting, or improving your speech in any way, will not lead to inflicting pain on your listeners.
By NOT practicing you will ensure your posture is weak, that you speak in a monotone voice and far too quickly, and that you don’t take enough pauses in between sentences.
6. Stand Very Still and Keep Your Arms at Your Sides Like a River dancer
Make sure you stand very still and do not use your hands during your presentation. Moving around the stage confidently and gesticulating will only keep your audience engaged in what you’re saying, and that’s the LAST thing you want to do.
You can always spot a novice presenter because they’re the ones filling the space, moving around the stage and showing their passion and enthusiasm by speaking with their hands. So sad.
7. Do Not Relate to Your Audience or Let Them Relate to You
Remember, we’re trying to create a painful presentation and to do this you cannot relate to your audience or let them relate to you in any way. To do so would be heresy and a sure way to engage them.
With this in mind, be sure to use language they cannot understand, for instance, a lot of industry jargon or techno-babble. A plethora of stats, numbers and charts and graphs is also a super way to get them to completely disconnect from your presentation.
A word of caution, never use storytelling as a tool. Humans are wired for stories, we absolutely love them and will hook in quick to anyone who uses a story to get a point across, so avoid stories entirely or suffer the consequences.
Jokes Apart. Though the above tips can help you create the world’s most painful presentation, by NOT following them, you are sure to keep your audience engaged, inspired, and entertained the entire time.