Do boring presenters set out to be that way? Do they wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “Gee, I hope I can get someone in the room to fall asleep during my presentation today!” or “I want to over-complicate my presentation so the investors don’t know whether or not to fund me.” Of course they don’t. The thing is, boring presenters don’t see themselves as being boring. They think that by providing volumes of information they’re being helpful and entertaining. Here’s what they could be doing better.
Show less stuff on slides
People often want to show everything they know about a subject on their slides. They create process diagrams with lots of different shapes, colors and lines. They include tables with 20 rows and 10 columns of data. They load their slides up with bullet points.
You know what? The audience isn’t going to be able to process all that information. Especially while the presenter’s talking. They’ll will either be interpreting the slides or listening to the presenter. They can’t do both simultaneously.
Don’t read off the slides
Do you know anybody who reads off the slides while presenting? Irritating, right? It exhibits a lack of preparation, that the presenter didn’t take the time to memorize his speech. And somebody who reads slides isn’t reading the audience. He can’t see if people are nodding in agreement, looking puzzled, or starting to doze off!
People who read slides can also seem like they don’t know what they’re talking about because they’re relying on the slide to tell them what to say.
Finally, if the presentation reads like a book, then why do presenters waste people’s time by meeting with them in person? Why not just send the PowerPoint file instead?
Simplify the message
Classroom lectures can be complicated because it is assumed that people have come to benefit from the presenter’s expertise. Hopefully they’re taking notes and most likely the slides will be available to them to remind them of what was said. But a presenter who’s trying to persuade or to sell needs to keep his message focused and simple.
Many times, a presentation is a so-called “foot in the door.” It’s the first introduction between speaker and audience and is meant to lead to more in-depth meetings and follow-up. Therefore, a presenter doesn’t have to present exhaustively on his subject. Chances are, the audience isn’t going to remember most of the statistics and data anyway, just the main points of the presentation.
Even a presentation on the most interesting subjects can seem boring when delivered by a speaker who speaks in a monotone and stands perfectly still. So more presenters should try to act more real, as if they were having a conversation with a close friend. They should change the tone of their voices, move around, make gestures, smile. They should get excited about their presentation!
My favorite course in college was entomology. The professor would cavort at the head of the classroom, doing praying mantis imitations and telling funny, interesting stories. Who knew bugs could be so entertaining! The class could have been a drag, but this professor made it exciting. His enthusiasm was absolutely contagious.
If more speakers would make these simple changes, then perhaps we’d all have to put up with fewer boring presentations!