Presto! 5 Steps to Magically Fix a Boring Presentation

Not every presentation is chock full of interesting content. Sometimes, the subject matter is either too technical, hard to comprehend, or just of passing interest to your audience. And though one solution might be to not present such content in the first place, in other instances, the “show must go on.” And for those circumstances, here are five steps to add a pinch of spice to an otherwise dull presentation.

1. Add Vocal Variety

Even the most boring presentation in the world can come to life when a presenter employs vocal variety techniques. Specifically, changing how phrases are sounded out, raising your voice for important statements, or even lowering your voice for effect can make unexciting content much more interesting. Changing from a monotone to a lively delivery can help your audience perk up and listen.

2. Add Passion

Take the most uninteresting topic in the world, add a passionate presenter, and—like magic—you have something worth listening to! Audiences are very smart and can instantly discern whether a presenter truly believes what he/she is saying. When a topic is presented with genuine excitement and passion, even the most technical fare can come to life.

3. Make It Real

One of the biggest challenges for presenters of technical content is creating relevance, especially for a group that may only have light familiarity with a topic. For example, not every person is interested in data warehousing and analytics. However, if a presenter can show how analytics works using “day in the life” scenarios for a retailer, suddenly that content becomes applicable. Approved case studies work even better as audiences discern that the presentation is more than “vaporware” and, in fact, touches the daily decision-making of consumers. By making the information real with examples and case studies, a presenter answers the inherent question of a listener, “What’s in this presentation for me?”

4. Bring on the Visuals

Most presenters understand that audience members absorb information in different ways. Some prefer an auditory approach, others prefer handouts, and there are plenty of people who would rather watch a multimedia video than listen to a one-hour lecture. That’s why an interesting presentation uses most/all of these devices—and often! Bring pictures, videos, charts, handouts, and more to your presentation. Employing two or more visual aids helps keep audiences interested in your subject matter.

5. Slow Down and Breathe.

There’s no rule of thumb that says a presentation must be delivered with breathless abandon. In fact, use of elongated or pregnant pauses in a presentation can give an audience time to mentally catch up, especially if the presentation is overflowing with facts and figures. Take time to breathe, look around, and make sure people are engaged. A rapid fire presentation with slides rolling every minute or two is usually disconcerting, and it may leave an audience with only a small fraction the information you intended to convey.

These are just five steps to fix a boring presentation—there are certainly more tips. Please contribute to the conversation by adding the best and worst practices you’ve observed!

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3 comments

  1. Indeed. When I teach presenting, I like to say that you must be the director and actor, everything. It is like creating a good movie. And if you want a blockbuster, you might consider looking like Angelina Jolie.

    People seem to understand when I mention her. 🙂

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