3 Reason Most Presentations Suck
1. Most presenters have no empathy for the crowd
There’s a complete disconnect between presenter and the audience. The speaker assumes people want the numbers, facts and figures when really the audience wants to be entertained, they want to be enchanted, they want to be told a story.
Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. Personally, for a business presentation if you make me sit there for forty five minutes without a video, several jokes or lots of crowd interaction I’m going to be board. Most people have an attention span around ten minutes. Every ten minutes you have to reengage your audience.
No one openly admits to wanting to learn, we actually want to be entertained.
2. Most presenters don’t get feedback on design
Not just your slide deck, your intro, your exit, your title. What do people take away from it? These are all things most presenters overlook. The best speakers have an amazing intro, their slides are captivating but not distracting and they give you something to take away, either physically or mentally.
No one openly admits to having a bad slide deck, but powerpoints (or Prezzy’s) are boring. Get feedback from a professional.
3. Most presenters don’t want to make it interactive
This is a simple one. It’s a lot of work. The more you talk to the crowd, the more you have to think on your feet. The more control the crowd has, the better chance for the presentation to go sideways. The BEST presentations ALWAYS go sideways. The more interaction the crowd has, the most visceral the learning experience. Not just asking questions. Play videos, use music, give away prizes, use examples people can look at, touch and feel.
5 Ways To Make An Awesome Presentation
1. Start with a bang
Your intro matters, a lot. Your first goal is to get the crowd to giggle along with you (or at you) whichever is easier. When people laugh they begin to trust and you need to crowd to trust you if they’re actually going to listen to you for the next 40 minutes. Gary Vaynerchuk does this incredibly well. Watch five of his videos, he gets the crowd laughing within the first 30 seconds, that’s unbelievable and extremely effective.
The intro is arguably the most important part of the presentation. It sets the tone, it shows the audience what they’re in for, and if you do it right, you being to put the audience into a trance.
2. Have a great finish
Your audience may not remember everything you talked about but, people will remember how you finish, do it in a memorable way.
I like to use a powerful video that builds up the energy in the room to a point of utter hilarity. The best part of the presentation should be the end. Save your one big punch line or a really good slide. Whatever you do, don’t do the same thing over and over until people can’t stop talking about whatever it is you did.
3. Get feedback
I still remember my first major presentation, it was a catastrophic failure. I was so upset after I went back to my hotel room and wrote a 1000 word blog post about why life is hard as an entrepreneur. I never published the blog post and I woke up the next morning in a way better mood. I was actually happy, because I got through it. It didn’t matter how I did, as long as I did it and got feedback. Which even though harsh, it was good for me.
Imagine the first time David Blaine gave this presentation, without the images, without the jokes and without his attitude it wouldn’t be even close to being as good as with all the other elements. He got feedback. For someone like David Blaine, entertaining is your life. As a presenter you aren’t “just presenting” you’re entertaining. Yes you may not be a magician but you can captivate an audience just like a magician does.
4. It’s never just a presentation, you’re entertaining an audience
It’s something special when people put aside time to listen to what you have to say. Don’t assume “your message” is entertaining enough. Always do more than they would expect. This is the recipe to success in life and in presentations, define what is expected and do things that are unexpected. Use videos, ask questions, give prizes for answers, use music, play a game, get people in the audience talking.
Remember, the average person can only pay attention for ten minutes without getting board as hell. Grab their attention by asking questions, playing a video, pausing for an uncomfortable amount of time, telling a joke, etc.
In the age of YouTube you can always find a relevant video that teaches your topic better than you can. Ehem, Ted.com, I show a video from TED every class when I teach at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
5. Simplify your slides
It’s 2015, you can’t read off your slides anymore. When you do you seem like a 15 year old using Powerpoint for the first time. I like the way Seth Godin does his slide deck. Simple pictures that coincide with a story.
When you’re making your presentation you pick a picture that will remind you of the story you want to tell. The best presentations are just going from story to story to story. That’s how our minds remember, in a narrative. If you want people to remember parts of your presentation you best simplify your slides so they get a reaction.
No more than 6 words a slide. Yes you can break that rule but lots of text annoys your audience. If you have to use a quote or something similar, use the text sparingly.
Resources on giving a better presentation
If you want to see what I (Jeph Maystruck) look like speaking, check out my fricken’ amazing presentations page!
One of my favourite videos to use in presentations…