The only way to be an interesting presenter

2nd August 2016

Watching a presentation isn’t easy.

After all, we just aren’t wired to…

  • sit in the same position
  • watching the same person
  • discussing the same topic
  • in the same way
  • using the same voice
  • with the same gestures
  • accompanied by same-y slides

When everything’s the same, our brains get bored. They wander off. What’s for tea? Who’s picking up the kids? How can I leave this boring room without anyone noticing?

So, when you’re presenting, everything can’t be the same. If it is, your audience will definitely get bored.

This makes these three words very important:

       Change something. Anything.

It’s easy to add variety into your presentations. After all, as long as you change something every now and then, you’re shaking things up. Some simple examples:

  • Vary your delivery. Don’t just talk. Ask questions, so they interact with you. Put them in pairs, so they interact with each other. Give them an exercise, so they interact with that
  • Vary your body language/voice. A recent study into what makes certain TED videos go viral found a huge correlation between the two Vs – variety and viral. In other words, use varied hand gestures/modulate your voice etc and people engage more with what you’re saying
  • Vary your visuals. A simple exercise: use Slide Sorter to put all your slides up on your screen. This will quickly show you if they look the same. If they do, change some of them. An easy technique: use SmartArt. This gives you lots of alternatives to the dreaded bullet point lists
  • Vary your content. Don’t just present facts. Instead, include things like stories, analogies, quizzes, trivia, puzzles, jokes, videos, imagery, and the like. You don’t have to use all these, of course. But do use more than none

And, of course, variety is important with all presentation types – from big PowerPoint-y, arm-waving formal things to when you’re presenting your case at a meeting.

After all, when people engage, they listen.

And when they listen, they’re more likely to act.

Action point

What’s your next presentation today? Is there enough variety in it? If not…

       Change something. Anything.

And if you want to take your presentations t an even higher level, look at Month 4 in this page’s table: how to transform your presentations

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