50 ways to annoy, bore or simply lose your presentation audience — Part 2
A presentation audience doesn’t want or expect a perfection presentation. They don’t want to see a slick, memorised, polished presenter, ‘perform’. The best presenters are mindful of their presentation audience wanting to connect with and relate to them emotionally as well as intellectually.
Presentation audiences want to learn something new. They want our passion, insight and empathy.
The journey to connecting emotionally with a presentation audience begins with authenticity.
The best presenters spend time honing their skills. Even the most experienced presenters and speakers are continually learning. A powerful way to continually developing our presentation skills is to understand what most presentation audiences don’t want.
Here are another 10 of the 50 ways to annoy, bore or simply lose your presentation audience.
11. Presenting irrelevant content
Have you ever sat through a presentation wondering what on earth the presenter is droning on about?
If you have, it’s likely that the content was simply not relevant to you. It can be extremely frustrating listening to irrelevant content. Imagine how you would respond if an audience member stopped you half way through your presentation and asked; ’ Why exactly are you telling us this, how will that information help me?’
Solution — As you craft your presentation, ensure that everything you plan to say, show or do is of relevance and value to your audience. If it’s not completely relevant, leave it out.
Read a previous article I wrote on the topic: ‘Most presentations are far too long — Less really is more!’
12. Reading slides
The moment you read text on a slide out loud to your audience, you are insulting their intelligence.
You are suggesting to your presentation audience that they can’t read and so you will do it for them.
I haven’t met anyone who likes or appreciates having slides read out to them. I have however, met countless professionals who agree it’s the ultimate presentation mistake yet continue to read slides themselves.
Solution — Craft a conversation rather than a recital. Remember that your audience have come to listen to you speak, not to read to them.
13. Making your audience read
What could possibly be worse than being read to during a presentation?
It’s probably being forced to read information on a slide whilst trying to listen to a presenter speak at the same time. Contrary to popular belief, most human beings can’t do both effectively at the same time. Those who can don’t want to.
If you really want your audience to read, send them a document or email instead.
Solution — Use images rather than text.
14. Presenting too much information
Putting too much information in a presentation can frustrate, confuse and overwhelm even the most patient presentation audience.
A healthy amount of data is always welcomed but not at the expense of your audiences mental and emotional well-being. Have you heard of cognitive overload?
‘Cognitive Overload is, by definition, a situation where one is given too much information at once, or too many simultaneous tasks, resulting in not being able to perform or process the information as it would otherwise happen if the amount was instead sustainable.’
Solution — Stop thinking of ‘more is best’, adopt the mantra ‘less is more’ instead. If you’re using visuals, present only one idea per slide!
15. Saving the punchline for the end
Don’t blind your audience with data waiting for the very end of the presentation to say how the information can help them. If you leave it too long you will lose them long before they get to feel the benefit of attending.
Solution — Tell them immediately what you can help them to accomplish, fix or avoid. Don’t save the punchline for the end.
If you can say it in 5 minutes don’t take 20.
16. Stop playing it safe
No one wants to hear a presenter simply ‘go through the motions’.
When you’re called on to present, you have a number of options available to you as to how you set about the task. Here are just two of them:
A) You can play follow the leader and present like the rest of your colleagues do. If they happen to be great presenters, that will serve you well.
If they are ‘just going through the motions’ and you copy them, your audience will forget around 90% of what they heard by the time they get back to their car or desk.
B) You can find and develop your authentic style of presenting. A way of presenting that allows you to be your best self and to stand out from the crowd.
Solution — Go for option B.
17. Not knowing enough about your audience
Inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi is the maxim, “know thyself”.
At Mindful Presenter that’s always our starting point. Once we have a far clearer insight and understanding of who we are as a presenter and communicator the next crucial step is to, ‘know thy audience’.
Don’t assume that all audience are the same and never make the mistake of believing every person in your audience is the same.
Solution — Do your homework
‘Do whatever it takes in advance to learn as much as you possibly can about your audience before you even begin to think about your presentation.
Don’t make assumptions that what you have to say will be of interest or value to them. Ask them.
Phone them or send them an email telling them what you have in mind and ask them how helpful that would be. But more importantly, ask what they want, need and expect from you.’
18. Starting and running late
One reason many presentations go over time is because they started late. Sometimes thats simply because not everyone in the audience turned up on time. Don’t make those people who turned up on time wait for those who didn’t; it’s annoying and not fair.
Running over time is arguably worse that starting late; it’s also disrespectful. There’s a good chance your audience will lose interest if you run over time. They may remain in the room physically but many of their minds will be elsewhere.
Solution — Start on time and finish on time or a little early
19. Low energy/ passion
In a previous article I wrote:
‘Energy and enthusiasm can make or break your success as a public speaker or presenter. The absence of a good level of high energy will leave your audience feeling numb, indifferent and even sleepy. The mindful presenter crafts and delivers their presentation in the belief that there is no such thing as a boring presentation, there are only boring presenters.’
“If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.” Norman Vincent Peale
Solution — Give your presentation audience everything you’ve got!
20. No call to action
Have you ever left a presentation and returned to your car, desk or perhaps even the airport wondering what you are supposed to do with that information now?
No one should ever leave a presentation without knowing exactly what it is the presenter would like them to do with the information received.
Solution — Don’t leave your audience guessing. Tell them exactly what you’d like them to do next.
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
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay