Tuesday
May222012

2. Seven ways how NOT to bore an audience

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She is the author of "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking" and is one of only 800 people in the world with the highest level of accreditation in the professional speaking industry - CSP - Certified Speaking Professional.

 Public speakers shouldn't bore their audiences. It is hardly emotionally intelligent, is it? Yet it happens often, in my experience.

Not looking at the audience can be boring

Instead, presenters need to help the audience feel engaged not feel bored - two very different emotions. Audiences do not want to be bored or disengaged.

Your job is to fire-up your audience with enthusiasm for your topic. If they are not enthusiastic, interested or engaged with your topic you might as well be at home having a bath!

Too often presenters provide a mediocre standard of public speaking. It's not good enough. 

First, though we need to identifying how presenters bore their audiences. Why? So that next time you or a colleague are doing some public speaking or giving a presentation, you know the pitfalls to avoid. 

Here are seven ways people DO bore their audiences and what to do instead.

Public speaking tip 1: Don't bore your audience by being flat.

How many presenters or public speakers have you seen who have either been bored by their own material or have just been going through the motions? Probably several.

It can be hard to have to keep presenting the same material but this is no excuse to be boring. Even if you know the topic off by heart, it may be the first time this audience has ever heard it.

You need to have spark and passion for your subject matter otherwise you are doing your topic, your skills and your audience a disservice.

Public speaking tip 2: Don't ignore your audience.

Time and time again I have seen presenters and public speakers reading their notes.

This means there is a disconnect between the presenter and the audience.

While you are looking down and reading your notes you are not looking at the audience.

You need to engage with your audience if you want them to engage with you. Look at them when you speak to them. Do not speak to your notes.

Want to improve your confidence as a public speaker so you audience wants to listen to you? Book into our public speaking development package: www.theeiinstitute.com/coaching/public-speaking-development-package-3-sessions.html

Public speaking tip 3: Don't be in a hurry to get off.

Have you, as a presenter or public speaker, ever just wanted a speech to be over with? The audience doesn't like to be on the end of this kind of thinking.

What can happen as a result of the presenter thinking like this is that they rush. They go as quickly as possible, they fail to add emphasis to their key points and they lose the rhythm that brings a speech alive. Stop! if this is you. Stop!

Instead, feel the privilege of having the opportunity to talk to an audience. They are giving you their time, therefore give them yours.

It can be very unsettling for an audience to have to join your race. Instead, measure your pace.

Public speaking tip 4: Avoid tiny print.

Have you ever shown a Power-Point slide that is too small for your audience to read easily? Unreadable slides detract from your message and leave your audience frustrated. If this occurs repeatedly their frustration leads to switch-off.

Check your Power-Points. Are they easy to read at the back of the room? If not, fix them, even if it means you need to break up the information and distribute it over more slides.

There is no numbers limit on how many slides to show providing they are all clear and catchy. There is a numbers limit on slides with print that is too small though. It's zero.

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Public speaking tip 5: Stop the preamble.

Do not waste the audience's time by waffling on, or taking too long to get into your topic. It is easy to switch off the audience at the very beginning by having a very slow, low-impact start.

For example, I often see presenters who having been introduced by their master of ceremonies, go and introduce themselves again. It goes something like, "Our next paper is being presented by Damien Goldsworthy. He works for ZPJ Minerals and his topic is "Mineral exploration 1965-1995". Please welcome Damien."

Damien walks on and says, "Good morning. My name is Damien Goldsworthy and today I am going to talk on Mineral Exploration 1965-1995." Argh! No! The audience is not stupid. They heard the introduction. You have already bored them.

Instead, use your first few words and sentences to grab the audience's attention, to gain their interest in your topic and to arouse their energy, curiosity and active involvement in the topic.  

For example, Damien might walk on and say, "Hands up how many of you were alive in 1965? I wasn't either but these people were ..." as he shows some exciting looking folk in mineral exploration.

Kick start the energy and lift the audience up from the very beginning. If you've bored them at the start there is even more work for you in lifting them back up.

Don't bore, it's a chore.

Want to engage you're a audience more easily and make your presentations more interesting? Book into our public speaking development package: www.theeiinstitute.com/coaching/public-speaking-development-package-3-sessions.html

Public speaking tip 6: Don't use Power-Points as speech notes.

There is nothing wrong with Power-Points. They can be a brilliant way to engage an audience.

However, there is a lot wrong with bad, boring Power-Points.

Power-Points were never designed to be a series of bullet points, i.e. your speech notes. They were designed to visually display your key-points in a high impact and visually retentive way for the audience. Design brilliant Power-Points for your audience.

There is no excuse for bad ones.

Public speaking tip 7: Finish on time.

I don't care how much more you have to say, finish on time. Even if you think you are brilliant and the audience is loving you, finish on time. Once a speaker goes overtime an audience starts to get restless, they want to go to the toilet, or meet their prior obligations, or have a drink ... you name it.

It is only your own ego that keeps you going. Stop! Conclude. Finish. Get off. The audience will love it. (In fact, audiences like being allowed to leave early too!)

If you've been brilliant leave them wanting more and get invited back.

How to improve your public speaking now.

Can you afford to have you or your team unable to engage their audiences? No! Organisations need to be represented by engaging speakers in order to get their message across as swiftly and effectively as possible. This applies to you if you are an executive or a manager too - do not bore your employees, your stakeholders or your board. We have a number of options to help you:

  1. Book into our public speaking development package.
  2. There is a definitive guide: "The beginners guide to being a brilliant MC".
  3. Read the book "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking".

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.