Do you know how to turn a boring subject into a brilliant presentation
Whether you are speaking about algorithms, algebra or actuarial science your presentation will only be as boring as you choose to make it.
When my son was a young boy despite being deluged with gadgets and toys one of his favourite sayings was ‘I’m bored’.
I would often respond by telling him that he wasn’t bored he was simply boring; harsh I know.
One of the most common complaints we here from professionals is that they really want to connect with their audience but their topic is just so boring.
I acknowledge their gripe in the same way that I did my son’s all those years ago.
There are many ways to turn a boring subject into a brilliant presentation
You have to look for the gold
The oldest method of gold mining is ‘panning’.
It’s a simple process which can yield lucrative results.
A similar process can be used by presenters to turn a boring subject into a brilliant presentation
It involves finding the ‘nuggets’ of genuine interest and value to your audience.
That begins by removing the large rocks and other debris from your dirt
In a previous article, ‘Most presentations are far too long’ I suggested that in many business presentations, much of the content is ‘superfluous noise’.
All your audience wants from you is the gold
Thye don’t want or need the rocks and the dirt; it’s your job to do the sifting for them.
Here is how you begin the ‘panning’ process:
1. Don’t start with your laptop
That’s the first mistake boring presenters make.
They cut off their creativity and consciousness the very moment they hit the keyboard.
Paralyzed by the first blank slide, their mind by default switches to ‘autopilot. It often regurgitates the same old templates, images and information it recognizes.
Try something else
– Go for a long walk
– Play some inspirational music
– Have a workout
– Sit under a tree
– Doodle on a flip chart
– Play with post it notes
Do anything but turn on the laptop and immediately start typing
Your first priority is to clear your mind and ponder on the reason you are preparing to speak in the first place.
What do you want your audience to do and how you want them to feel?
Where is the ‘gold’ in your topic?
2. Think like a ‘Tweet’
Your mind is open, calm and watchful.
You know what’s important to your audience, how you can help them and why they should listen to you.
Unless you can now express it to yourself in the comfort of your own mind with the clarity and brevity of a tweet you are likely to say too much and press the ‘boredom button’ yourself.
Once you can articulate your entire message to yourself in the form of a ‘Tweet‘, you are ready to begin.
Remember the late Steve Jobs:
“Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”
Make your presentation short.
3. Create an experience
Don’t just talk to your audience, create an experience:
– Involve your audience; ask them questions
– Get them to think, talk and do something; use activities and exercises
– Use them to help you learn, create or problem solve
– Use humour; at lest make them mile
– Make it unusual or different
– Tell them stories
4. Paint Pictures
Even the most fascinating topic can be turned into a deck of painfully boring slides.
The reason the old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is such an overused cliché is because it is true.
Rather than supporting the naysayers who continually rebuff the use of PowerPoint, embrace the power it offers.
Colourful, creative and well-chosen images can go a long way to adding life to a presentation.
You can paint pictures with the words you use too
Choose decriptive language that help your audience to see and feel what you are saying, as well as simply hearing it.
5. Presenting is about people not topics
If your topic is so boring that you really don’t have an important message which will make a difference to the lives of your audience, a presentation probably doesn’t need to be made.
You may still need to share the information.
I’d suggest you owe it to your audience to do so through an email, document or report.
You don’t have to an extrovert or rock star to connect with your audience.
You do have to be passionate and enthusiastic about your subject
If you’d like to turn a boring topic into a brilliant presentation:
– 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
Image: Courtesy of Flickr.com