I'm pretty sure that no one sets out to give a boring presentation. Yet why do so many presentations end up that way?
There are a number of classic presentation behaviors that will send you off the charts on the boring meter. Now these aren't mysterious things that we don't know are boring. They are simply behaviors we don't pay enough attention to.
So here's a tune-up for the new year, reminding us how to banish boring presentations.
[Yawning Koala Bear from the archives of the National Media Museum, used here under a Creative Commons License]
BORING BEHAVIOR: Reading Your Presentation
SOLUTION: More rehearsal to internalize your content so you don't have to rely on a script. | Add stories, metaphors, personal anecdotes and examples to make your material easier to remember, for both you and the audience.
BORING BEHAVIOR: Slides Filled with Text
SOLUTION: More graphics, illustrations and charts that are pertinent to the message and enhance understanding for the audience [generally, though, design doesn't beget boredom, so don't go crazy jazzing up slides]. | Stories and examples that don't rely on slides. | More rehearsal so you don't have to depend on the slides for your notes.
BORING BEHAVIOR: Monotone Voice
SOLUTION: More rehearsal [are you seeing a pattern here?] where you audio record yourself so you can hear the monotone; this makes it easier to work on increasing the inflection in your voice. | Voice coach. | Try to imagine you are having a one-to-one conversation with various members of the audience -- we are less likely to speak in a monotone in an actual conversation.
BORING BEHAVIOR: Too Much Content
SOLUTION: Be ruthless in editing your material when preparing the presentation. | Do your homework to find out the audience's needs so you can tailor your message and content to what is relevant to them. | Be clear yourself on your key message. | Ensure that your material has a logical flow [ask someone else to review, if necessary].
BORING BEHAVIOR: Not Allowing or Encouraging Any Audience Interaction
SOLUTION: Recognize that all audiences need a break from listening and some time to process what they're hearing. | Build places into your presentation where you ask the audience a question, ask them to write something down or interact with the person next to them. | Never ask an audience to hold their questions until the end -- this may help you not lose your train of thought, but it certainly doesn't serve the audience's needs.
Follow these simple guidelines and not only will you improve your presentations, you won't have to wake anyone in the audience when you're finished.
What other boring behaviors have you encountered? What solutions have you employed to avoid boredom?