Monday, September 23, 2019

4 Things Your Boring Presentation is Missing

There's a reason so many people have their heads bowed during a presentation: They're either asleep or playing "Words With Friends" on their phones.

This is a broad generalization, and my apologies to those who really are listening to the speaker. But be honest with yourself: When was the last time you listened raptly to a presentation from beginning to end?

For me, that answer is rarely. I don't like to sit through presentations that are dull, overly complex or delivered by someone who could put the Energizer Bunny to sleep.

If you're going to give a presentation, here are some things to make it much better:

1. Use similes and metaphors. It doesn't matter if you're presenting information on neurological disorders or leprechauns, it's always helpful to use some similes or metaphors to add some intrigue to your presentation -- and audience members are much more likely to remember that simile or metaphor rather than some dry data. Think of the way that advertisers use similes in slogans: "Chevrolet: Built Like a Rock," or "State Farm: Like a Good Neighbor." Or, if your team is considering several proposals, you might say something like, "Plan A would be like throwing the pilot out of a stricken aircraft to make it lighter."

2. Use facts. Of course you need to use facts! Just make sure they're related to your presentation in a way that isn't overwhelming. For example, don't read off a handful of statistics and expect your audience to understand their meaning. Choose to put them on a slide, and then read only one or two out loud -- and demonstrate their importance. This is also where you can use similes or metaphors to help your audience connect more strongly to the information.

3. Make a refrigerator list. Want to know if something is important to a family? Check what's displayed on the outside of their refrigerator. There will be family photos, important reminders about upcoming events -- and usually a list of some kind that reveals "10 steps to getting your home ready for fall" or "5 ways to get rid of deer in your backyard." When you write a presentation, do you provide concrete ideas that could be referred to over and over? Is your checklist full of actionable items or things to consider?

4. End strong. I've been at some presentations where the speaker ends and just sort of stands there or wanders away. Some people start to clap while others seem confused. Is the presentation over? Well, it must be as the presenter seems to be loading up his briefcase and grabbing his laptop. You do not want to leave your audience dazed and confused. Your final message must be strong. This will be the thing the listeners will remember most. You can concisely summarize your key points and then issue a call for action or ask a question for the audience to consider.

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