Don’t you hate it when speakers get off track, never had a track, run over their allotted time, or use a lot of um’s? How about when they have eye-charts for slides, ignore you, or even insult you? Maybe you’re so annoyed you resort to texting rather than continue to be assaulted.
You’re not alone. Here are 3 things that consistently top of the list of things that annoy the audience. (Avoid them if you don’t want to be doing the annoying.)
1. Bad slides. When you design the slides for your notes, and use them to deliver content, they’ll probably be boring and unreadable. Slides should help the audience get an “aha.”
Put your notes where only you can see them; make the slides as simple as possible (avoid full sentences); and ask yourself these 3 questions.
- Would I want to look at this slide? This isn’t about being clever, it’s about bowing to human nature. (If they don’t want to look at it, you’re swimming upstream.)
- What’s the point of this slide? Once you can state the point in 5 or 6 words, you’ll see things that aren’t needed to make that point. Take them out. See how you visually (that means without words) make that point. This helps you and the audience.
- Do I even need this slide? Speakers tend to use slides because they can, or they like the chart or picture, or because everyone else uses them. Not helpful to your goal. Make every slide justify how using it will help you get the outcome you want.
2. Boring content. Audiences hate to be stuck in a chair listening to things they consider irrelevant. If it’s put together like everyone else’s (broad brush strokes, textbook words), they won’t listen.
No subject is boring when the speaker digs into why it’s important. So, be clear on why they need this information and how it relates to them. Structure your talk around this. Let them know throughout the talk why it matters to them, as well as telling them before you get to the meat of your talk. Do it right after you’ve opened with something that gets them to start listening and stop texting.
Use stories, examples, real life applications to help you make your message compelling. People are visual. Visuals on your slides and visual words will help you make your case.
Carmine Gallo on Getting Away from Using Bullet Points in Presentations
3. Failing to connect. The most important part of any presentation is you connecting with the audience. You connect by talking their language. You connect by sharing information rather than being afraid to be wrong. You connect by paying attention to them and their needs, as well as the next 4 points.
- Be clear on who they are and what they want and gear your talk to those.
- Respect them regardless of whether you agree with them or not.
- Stay conversational and never take anything personally.
- And don’t make fun of any groups of people because one or more of those people may be in your audience.
As a general rule, there’s one thing you can do to make a huge change in all three of those: If you care more about helping the audience than you do about impressing them, you’ll automatically be less annoying overall. And you’ll be less nervous.
For more presentation tips, check out Getting Over Yourself: A Guide to Painless Public Speaking and More by Barbara Rocha
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