Last month, I attended a session to learn more about a large project. The information the presenter wanted to convey was, by necessity, complicated. Unfortunately, the presenter made a number of gaffes that made the audience experience that much worse.
Six ways to make a presentation more boring
1. Jump right in without telling audience why they’re there.
When you’re presenting, it’s helpful to tell the audience the main message of your presentation, what you hope the audience will learn and what you expect them to do with the information. In contrast, the presenter I saw just started talking, going through his slides one by one.
2. Dim the room lights as much as you can.
The room we were in was perfectly outfitted for presentations, with lights that dimmed near the screen and a separate bank of lights over the audience. But for this presentation all of the lights were dimmed. Naptime!
3. Read your slides.
The presenter I saw spent much of his time reading text off his slides, turning his back to the audience. It made him less of a presenter and more of a narrator.
4. Show some super-complicated slides and barely talk about them.
The presenter whipped through several slides that showed every step of the years-long process. But how many people benefited from this level of detail? How little fun is it for the presentation designer when one of the steps changes and the slide needs to be updated? It’s fine to include an amusingly complicated slide to illustrate the complexity of a subject; in fact, it could get a laugh. But nobody is ever going to remember all of the details of slides like these.
5. Don’t interact with the audience.
The whole of the presentation came from the presenter. He didn’t ask questions of us nor did he or give us an opportunity to ask him questions. One-way communication usually isn’t the best way to engage an audience.
6. End cold.
The presenter reached a slide labeled “Appendix,” which in my experience marks the beginning of the section that contains all of the supporting-information slides that you seldom show the audience. Although it’s not usually where a presentation ends, it was the end of this one. “That’s the presentation; it’s over,” stated the presenter. Really?!? The conclusion of your presentation shouldn’t sneak up on you, and you need to spend some time recapping what you just told the audience and telling them what they should do next.
The presenter clearly knew his material and was a professional in his field. However, the way he presented his information could have been different and more meaningful for the audience if he had avoided these mistakes.