What has prompted today’s Success Tip? I was musing recently about the difficulty I have with delegates and coachees who use the apparent ‘dryness’ of their subject matter as an excuse for not bringing their presentations alive. This is particularly pertinent right now, as we gradually return to face-to-face (rather than virtual) meetings and presentations.

We have become accustomed to online presentations and if they turn out to be ‘data transfer’ without noticeable sweat on the part of the presenter to create engagement, not to worry because not much audience effort has been expended. They will have merely ambled into their kitchen, lounge or home office to tune in, so if it all proves too dullsville, they simply switch off their cameras, flick on to mute and do something more riveting instead. Even if it is only a game of Scrabble on their smartphone.

However, if your audience has invested the time and trouble to gather at a venue, surely you owe it to them to be interesting? Yes, there will be certain occasions when you are literally spouting data with no real audience involvement but if that is all there is to your speech, why are you speaking at all? Why physically drag folk from far and wide if that is all you have to offer?  Are you simply talking face to face because that’s how it’s always been done, rather than because it is necessary? If so, don’t even fall back on Zoom – banish this kind of data transfer to a different communication medium, maybe attach it to a group email instead, which will free up time to spend on presentations that you can make interesting.

After delivering many a training session on creating interest, I would be a rich woman if I had a pound for every delegate who has ever remarked ”That’s OK for you to say Sonya – my subject is far too dry to add interest.”    

However, I have learned that ‘dry subject’ is code for “Do you know what Son, I really can’t be bothered”  This is a pity because you can make any speech interesting if you try.

Some food for thought – why not look for a story to help give the subject a human touch?  How about adding some humour, either visually or in the words you say? People worry that stories or fun will be seen as flippant or facile, but they won’t if you get it right. 

Sometimes a quirky picture next to some sober facts can give folk a new perspective. Find reasons to draw the audience in, gaining their ideas and involvement, helping them to become more engaged, whilst gathering some valuable nuggets yourself. 

Bring props that folk can touch and pass round, find a new angle of approach … but whatever you do, do something!  If your presentation hasn’t been changed since 1998 then drag it into the 21st century and begin to enjoy your talks again. And stop using ‘dry denial’ as an excuse!