An engineer in one of my training programs said to the group (and to me), ‘But I’m an engineer Michelle, I don’t have to be interesting!’ Ahhh! Are you serious? This is a classic misconception! This engineer is not the first person in a program of mine who thinks that their superior intelligence, their technically robust subject matter and their overloaded PowerPoint slides are enough to WOW an audience.
Surely the people who present the most technical and dry content need to try the hardest to be interesting don’t they? People often think that their expertise and information will sell itself. This is actually not true. Data is just inanimate data. It’s the human who makes meaning from that data and sells it.
If you think about it, we do know deep down that one-hundred slides with eight point font and diagrams that we couldn’t read in an hour (if we had a spare hour) isn’t going to make any message worth listening too, much less engaging or persuasive for an audience.
Sadly the majority of business presentations are still mind-numbingly dull and boring. As a presentation skills trainer for many decades I’ve seen thousands of technical presentations and you’d be lucky to stay awake in them even with a Red Bull or a strong coffee at the ready. And I think it’s such a shame because in the majority of cases, the presenter was a true subject matter expert, they just didn’t know how to showcase their professional expertise in a way that was exciting for their audience.
If you let your facts, data, and raw information overwhelm the presentation with little focus on your emotional objectives your audience will not understand, remember, or be persuaded by what you’ve told them.
Actually, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how robust your research is, or how conclusive your opinion is if no one is listening!
What should you do instead?
Remember you have a responsibility to your audience and to yourself, to selectively and strategically present your key points with the appropriate delivery techniques (gestures, voice, visual aids, body movement, stories, eye contact etc.) to bring your content alive.
So make sure your delivery is engaging enough with lots of direct, connected eye contact, clear audience focused messages and excellent PowerPoint slides that help your audience to focus on your key messages. This way, people will want to listen to your message, no matter how technical or dry it is.
“It doesn’t matter how good your message is if no one is listening!” Michelle Bowden
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au