We’ve all sat through a boring presentation in our lives. The kind where a speaker drones on and on while your eyes, and everyone else’s, just glaze over.
But now it’s your turn to present. And you don’t want your presentations to be anything like that. In fact, it’s your worst nightmare to be described as dull or tedious.
Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips for turning a boring presentation into an interesting one.
Make Things Personal
If you want to break away from humdrum presentations, you ought to include a little personality. Are you a classic cut-up? Go ahead and use humor in your presentation. Are you a seasoned and experienced member of your industry? Then forget the jokes and stick to grounded and practical wisdom.
For example, let’s say you are addressing a room full of PR professionals. Having worked in public relations for more than two decades, the audience is eager to soak up some actionable advice from a speaker of your tenure. However, you give them the same stale pointers about “treating the client like they are #1.”
Instead, tie that cliché to some real experiences. For instance, maybe you recognized that a certain CEO of a prospective client was especially tough to impress because he was so hyperactive. To keep him on the hook, you and your coworkers let him run the meeting; allowing him to click past slides to only hear what he was most interested in.
And in the end, it worked! You closed the deal and delighted the particularly tough prospect.
That’s what attendees of your presentation want to hear. Real experiences from real people. So, don’t be afraid to make things personal. After all, that’s what differentiates your presentation from anyone else’s.
Break Up the Flow
Another idea for turning a boring presentation into an interesting one is using multimedia to break up the flow. Videos are an obvious go-to since they add flair and, in most cases, are easy to embed in your presentation. With video you can showcase interviews with other thought leaders, action shots of a company campus, testimonials, and more.
Similarly, many presenters choose to ask questions with interactive PowerPoint polling from Poll Everywhere. This technology allows the presenter to poll the audience for quick feedback, assess how well people are retaining information, and field questions in real time without awkwardly passing around a microphone. Adept presenters can use polling technology to keep listeners engaged all while keeping a healthy beat on the presentation as a whole.
Other examples include animations, photographs, word clouds… just be sure that whatever multimedia you leverage works to add to the presentation rather than distract from it.
Prompt Group Work
If you leave a person sitting for too long, they will start to get lazy. It’s not a criticism of you or your presentation. It’s just a fact of life. Knowing this, it’s helpful to get people up and moving.
Presenters can get audience members up on their feet in a number of ways. You can ask members to say “hello” to three people they don’t know at the start of your presentation. You can get people to stand up for things they agree with or have experienced as a way of polling. But best of all, you can get people to gather together for group work.
Group work is a classic technique used by presenters because it encourages people to discuss what they are learning from the PowerPoint. Maybe you ask them to crowdsource an innovative idea or to brainstorm five ways to improve collaboration in the workplace. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you get the blood (and ideas) pumping so your audience’s collective attention span doesn’t fizzle out.
Think About Timing & Scheduling
Last but not least, you’ll want to think about timing and scheduling. Two surefire ways to turn off your audience is to spend too long on a single subject or to run long in your presentation.
And truth be told, you can’t blame audience members for getting bored during times like these. Perhaps the slide you spend 10 minutes on isn’t relevant to a quarter of your listeners. Or maybe the listeners have something else they need to get to, and the drawn-out discussion is making them anxious.
In these cases, presenters need to be honest with themselves and know when things ought to end. Spent more than five minutes addressing a listener’s question? Scan the room quickly to see how many people are still paying attention. If people are fidgeting in their seats, it might be better to field that query after the talk.
Running long during your conclusion? See if people are checking their watches or phones. If they are, wrap things up quickly or skip to the good stuff. After all, it’s better to leave an audience on a good note rather than a dull one.
Of course, these are just some of the pitfalls of boring presentations. But, by following the above tips and keeping an eye on your audience, you will be in a good place.