How can you avoid making a boring presentation?
Your subject is interesting, Your audience should be eager to learn more about it. You’ve done tons of research. (Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia wants a contribution.) You’ve practiced until your preso sounds smooth, but not too smooth. Heck, you’re an interesting person, so it should all go well.
Well, not so fast. Anett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking has several important things to say about why those people in the third row are nodding off. (When you thought they were nodding in agreement.)
Your speaking habits may be to blame for the soporific quality of your communications. According to Ms. Grant, you’re probably doing three things to create a boring presentation.
Your rhythm is (un)fascinating
You need to vary the length and pacing of your sentences throughout your presentation. Sameness is monotonous. It can make people feel sleepy in the same way as a shiny object swung pendulum-like does. Long sentences can definitely do that, so favor shorter, rather than longer sentences.
Your sound pattern is compressed
Ms. Grant notes that she once worked with a French and a Chinese client. Both had distinctly different accents, but she had the same reaction listening to both of them: she felt drowsy after just a few minutes. A rapid, crisp, compressed pattern flattens your speech, even though you can pack more words in.
I can testify to the effect of a compressed speech pattern. I was once on a project team with someone who spoke very fast and never varied his pattern. After listening conscientiously for a few minutes, I felt so battered by his barrage of words that I tuned out. Ms. Grant points out that when you “stretch out your vowels, your sound pattern becomes more broadband and less monotone.”
You’ve omitted storytelling
Your presentation is less than 20 slides long. Each slide is thankfully light on content, “but if you don’t frame your message as a narrative, you’re not going to engage your audience.” So dig a little deeper and find a way to turn those metrics and factoids into a story that will make people sit up and take notice.
Just for fun, I’ve included a link to a quick YouTube example of a truly boring presentation. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.