3 Ways to Make Your Presentations More Interesting
On the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863 , there were two people who spoke on the Gettysburg battlefield. The first speaker was eloquent and spoke for two hours. The second speaker was also eloquent, but only spoke 283 words which have been remembered ever since as ” The Gettysburg Address” delivered by President Abraham Lincoln . Do you remember who the first speaker was? The first speaker was then famed orator and former Secretary of State Edward Everett. Who do you think was more interesting and remembered to the audience that day?
One of my mentors, the radio personality Earl Nightingale, said, “The only obligation of a speaker is to make their presentation interesting for his or her audience.” So how do we make our presentations interesting.
The first way, believe it or not, is to present to your audience the minimum information they need to understand your main points? Less is more emphatic!
I listened to a colleague’s presentation once. Her presentation had too much detail. The presentation should have taken 15 – 20 minutes. It grew into an hour-long presentation and would have gone longer if someone else didn’t have the meeting room booked after us. She had unnecessary detail that not only lengthened her presentation, but also muddled her main points. Her audience was baffled as to what her main points were.
Lost audiences are tuned-out audiences. Too many details in your presentation distract the audience from your main points. As a technical speaker I have experienced this both on the presenting and receiving ends.
There is also another unexpected danger when you include unnecessary details. Audience members invariably ask questions about the unnecessary details and your presentation goes in directions you had not intended, wasting time, diluting your main points, and making your presentation less interesting.
Abraham Lincoln adroitly illustrated a saying in public speaking circles, “Be Bold, Be Brief, Be Gone!” Say what you have come to say in a dynamic and concise manner and then sit down. Don’t fall in love with the sound of your voice!
The second way to make your presentations interesting is to tell stories that support your main points. Everyone loves a story and we all have stories. You may not think you do, but you do. Think back to that presentation you liked or didn’t like or the situation in the lunchroom that is relevant to your presentation. Tell an historical story about your subject area. Self-deprecating stories are particularly loved by audiences drawing them to you and your topic. Here’s the key rule about stories: the story must be relevant to the point you are making at the time.
Finally, the third way to make your presentations more interesting is to vary your presentation method. The average adult’s attention span is 20 minutes. At least every 20 minutes change your presentation method. Ask the audience questions to get them involved. Show a video. Pass around a prop relevant to the subject. Bringing variety to your presentations will make them more interesting for your audience and for yourself.
Do you want your presentations to be interesting for your audiences? Sure you do.
Remember, you can make your presentation more interesting, i.e., less boring, by :
One – Giving your audience the minimum they need to understand your point.
Two – Telling stories. Everyone loves a story.
Three – Varying your presentation method (e.g., Ask the audience questions, show videos, pass out props, etc.)
Take these three speaking tips to heart, make them a part of your presentation, and you will find your audiences saying, “Now that was a great presentation.”