Chances are you don’t jump up with excitement when you receive an invitation to a presentation. That’s because more often than not, presentations are more of a snooze fest than an informative and engaging experience. From poor structure and text heavy slides to complicated jargon and a monotone speaking voice, there are several reasons why a presentation can be boring and unappealing. The ability to deliver a powerful, convincing, and impactful presentation is not an easy task, but it starts by understanding what makes a presentation boring. This ensures you know what NOT to do as a presenter. To avoid a disastrous presentation, consider the following things presenters do that make their presentation boring.
1. Read from a slide.
Believe it or not, your audience can read very well without your assistance. Rather than reading to your audience, why not save everyone the time and hassle and send them a copy of your slideshow? Presentations are not a time to read from a slide verbatim. That is just a surefire way to lose their attention right off the bat.
2. Start with a boring introduction.
Those first few words out of your mouth can set the tone for your entire presentation. “Hi, my name is ___ and today we are going to talk about__” is boring. Likewise, never start a presentation with an apology such as “I’m sorry you have been dragged here today but I will try to make this fun.” You might as well tell the audience that your presentation is going to be boring.
3. Load your slides with text.
Be careful when designing your slide deck that you don’t put too much text on a slide. You should never have full sentences, let alone paragraphs, on a slide. This is way too much information to include and your audience did not come to read full paragraphs on every slide.
4. Don’t make eye contact with your audience.
Eye contact is one of the most important components of communication. In order to engage with your audience, you must make eye contact with them. When you see a presenter look down and read from their notes, or read slides with their back to the audience, you immediately feel bored and disengaged.
5. Don’t practice enough.
Very few people are able to “wing it” and deliver a great presentation. The best speakers tend to practice regularly until they know their material backward and forward. If you don’t practice and rehearse, your audience will notice and they will immediately lose interest. If you want people to listen to you, you have to appear confident and well prepared.
6. Tell long winded stories.
Stories are great, but not when they drag on for fifteen minutes. The biggest mistake a presenter can make when telling a story is to drag it out with useless details. For example, you should never say something like this: “Last Tuesday I was at the grocery store…or wait, was it Wednesday? No, I’m pretty sure it was Tuesday because I remember picking up my son from soccer practice. Anyway…” By this point your audience is already half asleep. If you are going to tell a story, keep it short, simple, and to the point.
7. Use unnecessary filler words.
Nothing will lose an audience faster than “um,” “so,” “like,” “you know, “ah.” These filler words are the result of nervousness but they are completely unnecessary. Not only will they make you sound less credible, but they will also distract the audience from what you are trying to say.
8. Have technical difficulties.
Technical difficulties will almost definitely cause your audience to zone out. They are not going to wait patiently while you fix your microphone, reset your computer, start your slideshow over, or change the batteries in your presentation remote. Make sure you have tested and prepared all of your technology ahead of time.