No matter the topic, giving a memorable presentation can seem daunting.
When your topic is boring, it can feel even more challenging. Perhaps you think that because your industry or profession is highly technical and data-heavy you are doomed to put your audience to sleep.
Though it might not be easy, you can turn a boring topic into an engaging presentation. If you are passionate about your topic, you can inspire your audience. However, if you think your “job” is to get a bunch of boring information across to your audience, you’re sabotaging your efforts and you should start thinking differently.
1. Understand your objective.
Your first step to an engaging presentation is to get your mindset right. Giving a presentation is not about sharing information; it’s about persuasion. Once you know what you are trying to get your audience to do, summarize it in one brief sentence. For instance, “I am going to convince my audience that eating a plant-based diet is a healthier option and will save them money on medical bills down the road.”
Once you know this, you can begin to craft the most effective presentation possible.
2. Solve a problem.
A good presentation is like an effective advertisement: Both solve a problem for the audience. Your job is to determine what problem your audience has that your information can solve.
Once you have determined the problem, lead with it. Start by talking about the problem. Make your audience feel their frustration. They’ll clamor for your solution, i.e., the information you have to share.
Sticking with our original example, you may start your speech by discussing how awful it feels to go through life with aches and pains and no energy, not to mention how depressed you feel because your skin is not aging well. Your audience will think, “Hey! That’s exactly how I feel.” Now you can speak to them about the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
3. Use case studies.
Many topics will require your give cold, hard, boring data. When you convey data through a case study, it is far more engaging. For instance, data about the efficacy of a particular drug is boring, but when you share how the drug improved a patient’s life, it is anything but dull.
4. Have a plan B.
What happens if you can’t find a case study for your topic? Come up with a plan B, ideally using metaphors and analogies.
Use your imagination. Is your overall message like weather or a specific sport? Maybe it’s just like attempting to make the world’s best triple-decker sandwich.
Keeping with our nutrition theme, you might suggest that the body is like a car: For it to run well and not have the engine wear out, you have to give it the right fuel.
The best teachers in the world use metaphors and analogies to help their students understand difficult and complex topics, and you should use them as well.
5. Make your presentation interactive.
Even inherently interesting topics can turn into dull presentations when the audience feels lectured. Lecture to adults, and they’ll instantly feel as though they’re back in school, forced to “listen” as the teacher drones on and on about something boring.
Remember those special teachers who energized the class, though? They made lessons fun, inspiring and surprising.
The more interactive your presentation, the less boring it will be. Get your audience involved. Ask for a show of hands, pose specific questions to a few individuals, borrow someone’s watch to make an interesting point. Have a conversation instead of giving a lecture, and you’ll do much, much better.
6. Make eye contact.
You could be talking about how easy it is to make millions of dollars by doing almost nothing, but if you’re looking down at your notes or reading your PowerPoint slides, your audience may still fall asleep. Eye contact is essential part to good conversation, and that’s what you’re having, ideally.
Scan the audience and let your eyes land on one individual for a few seconds before moving on to the next. Great eye contact is the sign of a confident presenter and will keep your audience engaged.
With planning and imagination, any topic can be made more interesting. Your job is to love the information you’re presenting, determine what you are trying to convince your audience of, solve a problem, use case studies, employ metaphors and analogies, make it interactive, and make great eye contact.
If you do this, your audience will be engaged throughout your presentation.