How many times have you been part of a presentation audience and ‘switched off’ within the first five minutes?
Your body may still be in the room but your mind has taken a sabbatical. Perhaps you’re not the only one in the presentation audience who has decided this may be the perfect time to check your phone for messages.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your connection with your presentation audience, it’s worth knowing what not to do.
Here are another 5 of the 50 ways to annoy, bore or simply lose your presentation audience.
Offer Little interaction
A presenter who doesn’t interact with their audience will often be perceived as lecturing them. A lecture is of course, often a one-way communication. It’s where you are spoken at for a period of time without the speaker actively involving you in the conversation. That’s because it isn’t a conversation; it’s a data dumping exercise.
Most people don’t like to be lectured to.
Your goal is to make your presentation audience feel as though they are part of an important conversation.
– Ask them questions; even thought-provoking ones
– Call for a show of hands
– Canvass opinions
– Find out how they feel
– Run a poll or a quiz
– Get them to relate their experience
Do whatever you can to create an interactive experience rather than a lecture.
Your presentation audience don’t expect you to be the worlds leading authority on a topic. They do however, want to feel as though you know what you are talking about.
As I write this, it feels ridiculous to suggest that anyone would speak on a topic they don’t have a good level of knowledge on. Sadly, it’s far more common than many would believe.
– I realise it shouldn’t have to be stated but the key is to never put yourself in this situation. You don’t necessarily have to have more knowledge that your audience but you should know enough to respect their time and intelligence.
– Find out how much your audience know on the topic and mindfully consider how much value you can add to their level of knowledge.
– Prepare well. Ensure you have a strong enough knowledge base to enlighten your audience and answer any questions they may have.
Presenting someone else’s material
One of the reasons some presenters aren’t as knowledgeable on a topic as their audience would like them to be is because they are presenting someone else’s material. Keep in mind that I’m not referring to plagiarism here. Unfortunately, the following scenarios are extremely common:
– The marketing department produce the presentation content for the sales team
– Your boss asks you to step in to present her content as ‘something has come up’
– You are the only person available to present
In the ideal world, you should never present someone else’s content. I’m mindful of the fact that we don’t live in an ideal world or often even workplace culture. Let’s look at one of these situations.
The marketing department produce the presentation content for the sales team
Sit with your marketing team who have given you the content to present and respectfully:
– Remind them that they may be the marketing expert but you are the sales authority. Remind them that it’s your client, your credibility and your reputation. Reassure them that you understand your client or potential client far better than they probably ever will.
– Continue this conversation with a request that if they insist on creating your content that they accompany you on several sales pitches/visits. Call on them to at least experience for themselves the challenges you face.
– Request that you build the content together, with their marketing expertise and input.
– At the very least, insist on their permission for you to simplify, personalise and adapt the content wherever necessary and appropriate to suit your style of presenting.
If they refuse to co-operate on any of these points to support you, consider looking for another job.
Too many bad habits
When it comes to public speaking and presenting, we have a very clear definition at Mindful Presenter of what these are.
‘A bad habit is anything we say or do, repeatedly, to the point of distraction.’
Nobody wants to see a slick, polished, flawless presenter. Equally, nobody wants to be distracted by something they find annoying which you do repeatedly. A presentation audience won’t thank you for repeatedly:
– Saying ‘Err’, ‘Umm’, ‘So’, ‘You know.
– Fidgeting… playing with my wedding ring, hair, pen, etc.
– Reading slides
– Hands in pockets, behind back, clasped
Seek the help of a highly effective public speaking and presentation skills coach.
Lack of authenticity
Have you ever sat through a presentation where the speaker is just clearly ‘going through the motions’. They have put on their corporate spokesperson hat and are speaking to you in a way that doesn’t feel at all real, empathetic or conversational. If you have, you know how painful the experience feels.
At Mindful Presenter we believe that your audience want three things from you:
– Your knowledge, information, expertise and insights
– To feel that you not only know what you are talking about but that you care passionately about it too
– That you’ve shared your knowledge and passion in a way that leaves them feeling something emotionally
The first one is easy. The remaining two require authenticity.
Don’t just be yourself. Be your best self.
Be prepared to be a little vulnerable and give your audience at least a glimpse of the real you.
Be open with your audience
Connect with your audience
Be passionate about your topic
Wise advise from a highly respected and experienced public speaking coach.
Watch out for part 3 of ‘50 ways to annoy, bore or simply lose your presentation audience’, coming soon.
If you need help ensuring you never lose, bore or annoy your presentation audience:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training