Boring presentations are enough to make you regret getting up in the morning. It would be impolite to just up and leave in the middle of a talk, but there are 100 other places you’d rather be and things you’d rather get done that day. Most people can catch on quickly to when a presentation is going to be dull.
When you’re the one doing the presenting, it’s not always obvious when you’re boring your audience. Their body language and lack of response can be an indicator, but even if they’re being obvious about it, you might be too engrossed in delivering your message that you miss these cues.
Certain types of presentations are more boring than others. Some of them are never going to be incredibly exciting due to the tameness of their subject matter. However, no matter what you’re talking about, a presentation is always an opportunity to engage the audience. Making them bored achieves the opposite. Here are five ways you can ensure you will bore your audience. Avoid these pitfalls like the plague!
Talking “At” Them
Yes, when presenting, you are the main event and will be doing much of the talking. The bulk of what you say might be instructional and informational with the hopes that your presentation will get them to bite. However, if you’re simply flapping your lips in front of your audience, they’ve already escaped your reach. Communication is a two-way street, even when giving a speech. Part of your presentation should involve you interacting with the audience to simulate a regular, friendly conversation as much as possible. This way, you won’t be talking “at” them, but “with” them.
To follow-up on the issue of how one should talk, we’ll take this moment to emphasize that the meat of the presentation should be in what you say, not what’s on your slides. The audience should feel encouraged to pay attention to your spoken message, with the slides serving up complementary information and brief take-away verbiage. Putting too much text on your slides will cue the audience to read instead of listen, decreasing your potential to engage effectively with them.
Too Many Tangents
It’s up to you to keep your audience focused. Even the ones with the most patient of attention spans will evade your influence when it’s not clear what they should be taking away from your presentation. Long, drawn-out talks that veer too far from the main intended message will leave audiences wondering, “What is the point of this?” and “Why am I here again?” It must be crystal clear what you want the take-away message to be and you must deliver it in a timely fashion without bringing up extraneous points.
Including powerful and illustrative images and video in your presentation often makes the difference between having your audience go, “Aha!” instead of “Huh?” But if the same are of a lackluster quality and it isn’t clear how they relate to your main points, they will leave audiences scratching their heads and missing important information while trying to figure it out. Only sharp and relevant images that are not too distracting have any place in a presentation. Too many images and videos, or those that look tacky and seem pointless, will make your audience want to close their eyes.
Lack of Expertise
Some presentations look great on paper and seem to have covered all the bases, but then the execution fails to deliver. This results from the presenter’s own lack of knowledge about the topic. When a presenter has rehearsed their talk and seems to be reading from an invisible teleprompter, it’s clear that they know the speech well enough – but it’s not convincing they’re an expert on the topic at hand. Make sure you know your stuff before you claim to by presenting on it. Speaking in a natural voice and showing your personality a bit will make your audience’s confidence in you grow.
When people attend a presentation – any presentation – they have the unspoken expectation that it be a unique experience. Every presentation can have that special “something” that distinguishes it from the rest, even if it’s subtle (and in fact, it doesn’t have to be major to make a difference!) However, if your audience feels bored, it will be remembered only as one of many uninteresting presentations accumulated in a lifetime.