Why do we assume we must deliver important information in a way that bores the audience so much they can feel their hair grow?
We've all been there before: you look out over a silent, unresponsive audience, and a voice in your head says, “What’s going on here? Is it me? Am I missing something?” "My topic is so dull. This is boring as hell."
Your first reaction is to blame yourself, but in reality, you’re caught in the nutcracker jaws of giving a “Professional Presentation”. Most of us believe that our presentations must adhere to an accepted “PPC” delivery, which tricks us into following this strict formula:
Professionalism: Have a delivery that is very rigid, stoic and stiff.
Perfection: Use PowerPoint slides to deliver antiseptic content.
Clichés: Exhaust the patience and attention of my audience; ensuring my message will not be taken seriously.
And when we adhere to this formula, we set ourselves up for boredom and failure.
BOREDOM SETS IN BEFORE WE BEGIN TO SPEAK
In the days before social media robbed us of conversation and human interaction, we talked to each other, sharing our day-to-day activities, personal stories, and jokes. This was called “small talk”. Awkward as it may have been, we conversed directly with another person. We felt we had something to offer, to share with another person, and that “something” may have seemed insignificant in a corporate context but it was significant to us.
By today’s standard of communication and live conversation, most people feel they have 'little to offer' and have 'nothing much' to say. The simple act of “small talk” has travelled so far from our muscle memory that we now have more intimate relationships with a smart phone. Our lives appear to be pretty dynamic on screen; however; we are living increasingly in a world of boredom. All too often we overhear these threads of conversation:
- My work is boring.
- My topic is boring.
- I don't really do much.
- Nothing seems to be going on in my life.
Has 'boring' now replaced 'busy' in our everyday vernacular?
We have convinced ourselves that our audiences expect this formulaic "Professional Presentation" style from us. And if that is the expectation, then we fear we can't break from the tradition presentation (PPC) format.
How can we expect to be “dynamic and engaging” when we are in front of an audience? More to the point, how can we expect people to put their phones down when our presentation is steeped in an outdated 'Professional' style with antiseptic content seasoned only with corporate clichés? It’s time to plug that communication void.
BEGIN BY CHANGING THE CULTURE OF BORING
We all have something in common with the celebrities/mentors/speakers/anyone we admire. Like them, we are born with a personality that comes with built-in permissions. By tapping into these, we develop the mindset of a first-class communicator by following these three steps:
First: Let go of stifling language.
Clichés and jargon push the audience into exhaustion and out of the presentation. Delete these from the work environment and the crafting of your content.
Next: Make room for response.
Our “small talk” mode of speaking naturally opens up a conversation with the audience, which allows for dialogue. Bring this back to the boardroom.
Then: Exercise the “Permissions”.
As the presenter, you have permission to be you. When you bring your “YOUness” to your audience, you have permission to:
1. Be genuinely excited about the topic and share it. You and the topic are not boring.
2. Toss out the clichés and the corporate jargon. These convey very little. Summarize what you are trying to say instead.
3. Have a conversation with your audience as you would with a small group of friends over dinner.
4. Avoid perfection and step aside from an antiseptic delivery style. After all, 54 slides for a 5-minute presentation guarantees most of the room will be asleep with the remaining people in the washroom praying for you to finish while they are away.
5. Use pop culture references or images to explain a 'boring topic'. You don’t have to be a comedian, but you do have to deliver your presentation in a way that will help your audience remember your message.
6. Be yourself and let go of what convention dictates.
Being a dynamic speaker means changing up the status quo. Risk real communication with a large group; risk having a one-on-one conversation with an audience.
We are going to the next level. “Small Talk” with the audience is not unprofessional; it's the Sound of Comprehension – and that’s music to the ears of your listeners. (Habits, intentions and this ridiculous notion of practice)
If you'd like to hire Lauren Ferraro for your next speaking engagement, you can find more information here or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org