No matter how excited you are about your area of expertise, no matter how fascinated you may be by the work you are doing, and no matter what is happening within your department…it’s pretty safe to assume that no one else is as excited as you are. Put simply, presentations are boring. “Death by PowerPoint” is actually #7 on the top list of workplace injuries.
Let’s backtrack for a moment though and clarify what I’m trying to say. Content, no matter how meaningful, is never enough. But…content is king, right? Actually, your audience, their motivation, and creating a unique experience is actually king. It’s about making your content memorable and motivational for the people in the audience. Just because you’ve spent the past month gathering data and filling your presentation with endless information, doesn’t mean anyone will actually remember it.
That’s why instructors vary their method of delivery. Instead of simply relaying information every single class, they’re lecturing, presenting, asking questions, sharing life experiences, encouraging peer-to-peer interaction, creating group projects, and trying to get students to soak up the information in ways that they (the students) can actually relate to. If you think back to the best class you’ve ever taken, it’s usually because of a great instructor (not just the meaningful content).
So…we can at least half-way agree that presentations are boring. Knowing this I was a little worried (okay, a lot worried) that I would fall flat on my face and fail to connect with the audience. I was told that I’d have 5 minutes to talk about social media. Social Media. Yup…boring. Who cares about social media anyways? Not me.
And so, I struggled to brainstorm, write up sticky note storyboards, and develop a working outline. I knew I had great information on all of our social media platforms. I had key analytics that demonstrated engagement and an increase in readership over time. I had background information into the effort and production that happened behind the scenes. Even knowing I had all of this information I still struggled to find my message. Who cares about numbers, clicks, views, and endless social media buzzwords. Nobody.
I then began to craft a message that told a story. I shared a vision. I spoke to what my audience valued and connected my content to those values. Once I was able to do that it became very apparent what I should ditch and what I should focus on. Below is the final result.
If anyone else struggles with presentations, believes that most presentations are boring, and seeks to become a better presenter, below are some great resources. They help me unlearn from time to time and focus on what is most important.
Lastly, I don’t have any inspiring tips for overcoming stage fright. Before every single course I have ever taught and before delivering any presentation my heart is beating a hundred miles an hour. Gulp.