When I was a senior in college, I gave a presentation on a term paper I’d written. The professor called me up and I started gushing about my findings, moving from slide to slide and furiously writing notes on the blackboard. After ten minutes, I was out of breath. I put down the chalk, smiled, and looked out at the class.
“Any questions?” I said.
One student in the back was doodling in his notebook. A student in the middle was tracing his hand. Another student was completely asleep.
The professor smiled and told me that I did a good job, but as soon as I sat down I felt like Ben Stein in the clip below.
Has this ever happened to you? If so, it’s time to make your presentation more relatable.
Here are three rules to follow to make your stories and presentations more enjoyable and personal. I can’t guarantee that people won’t fall asleep, but at least they won’t do it because of you.
1. Edit. Cut out useless adjectives, complicated nouns and superfluous explanations. Your audience is smart, so treat them with the respect and intelligence they deserve. They’ll do the same for you in return.
2. Have a Destination. All good stories and presentations need a destination. If it seems like you don’t know where you’re going, people will lose interest.
3. Know Your Audience. If your audience is expecting a talk about politics and you tell them about how you hate golf, people will be confused and upset. Unless, of course your story is about playing golf with a politician. Be a savvy presenter.
Follow these simple rules and you’ll never have to ask, “Anyone, Anyone?” again.*
*Unless you’re doing a Ben Stein impression. In that case, go crazy with it.