The trouble is, you don’t have to be a boring person to be a boring presenter. However interesting we are in one-to-one conversation, there’s something about standing up in front of an audience that threatens to bring out the dull in the best of us. We find ourselves suddenly stiffening up, avoiding eye contact, resorting to clichés.
But what’s really going on when the audience switches off, and how can we avoid it?
Back in the 1980s, behavioural scientists at Wake Forest University conducted the first – and still one of the most influential – studies into the psychology of boredom. Among other things, they wanted to analyse which traits people find most boring in a speaker. In the course of their experiments, they identified these three tendencies as the most powerful triggers for boredom:
1. Negative egocentrism: a speaker talking only about themselves and displaying disinterest in others
2. Banality: talking only about trivial things or repeating stale truths that the audience already knows
3. Low affectivity: showing little expressiveness and enthusiasm, with minimal eye contact and a monotonic speaking voice
Here’s how to conquer these three boredom bugbears in your next presentation.
1. Engage, engage, engage: The golden rule of non-boring presentations is to be at least as interested in your audience as you expect them to be in you. Find ways to start a conversation, with one audience member or several. Make a connection; make it more about them than about you.
2. Be original: Never underestimate your audience, and always try to tell them something new. If your content isn’t particularly novel, can you think of a new or unusual way to tell the story? Perhaps you can involve your audience, seeking their input at key moments in your presentation.
3. Keep the energy up: Your passion for your subject is what ultimately carries the audience with you, but it won’t come across in your slides alone. Don’t be afraid to emote – remember, you’re on stage, giving a performance. Gesture with your hands, but make sure these are deliberate movements, rather than nervous tics. Inject some variety and colour into your voice. And be sure to make eye contact with the audience.
These days, we’re lucky to have some really useful audience engagement tools to help ensure your presentations are engaging, original, high-energy – and never boring!
Check out our very own Chime suite, and you’ll discover how interactive tech can benefit even the most charismatic presenter. Our award-winning Chime event apps deliver second screen capabilities on iPads to increase audience engagement, interaction and insight. You’ll see a difference and drive audience engagement when you push presentations, bios, live polling, quizzes, forums, heat maps and word clouds into the hands of attendees.