Master Presenting

Stop The Awkwardness—Present with Confidence

How Do You Know if You’re Boring?

BoringA friend of mine said, “Man, you’re site is good, but bad speakers don’t know they need it and great ones don’t.” Now, we can always improve, but I get the gist of what he’s saying. It’s like bad fashion or hair. If you’re horrible, at best you don’t notice and at worst—you don’t care. 

If you care about how you come across, if that matters in your personal or professional life, this might be a little bit of a “speaking self-aware checklist” that might interest you. Now I’ve broken this up into presenting and conversing. You might be stellar at one, but at the other, you are indeed the fashionista wearing the Emperor’s new clothes. 

Presenting

Your slides are boring when people immediately look down when your first slide hits the screen. They immediately disengage. Jazz it up. 

You tell three facts without once single story in between. People love stories—give an example of inspiration or relevance when it comes to what you have to say.

One single eye roll. You’re boring.

If you laugh at your joke more than they do. Here’s a fun thing: don’t laugh at your own jokes. 

You are glued to your notes. If we wanted that, we would have had you literally phone it in. Look at us. Figure out a way to be detached from your notes. Keynote and Powerpoint can put them on your screen, but you have to make eye contact with us. 

Any questions? No questions? Congrats, you’re boring. No one wants this presentation to go any further. They have places to go.

When you say, “Thank you for your time” you get a simple head nod and they are looking for the nearest exit as if the room will flood. 

Conversing (Whether at a conference, a mixer, or just out in that wide world we live in.) 

You don’t ask a single question about the person in front of you. You’re talking about that movie you just saw or can you believe the traffic we just faced? Aren’t we road warriors? Try these: 

  • “What’s the most difficult part of your career?” 
  • “How did you get involved in your career? Where do you want it to go?” 
  • “What do you do in your off time?” 
  • “I’m in between books right now—what would you recommend?” 
  • “I’m looking for tips about (their field), what would you recommend?”

They walk away to find their invisible friend. 

They look at their watch. They aren’t wearing a watch. 

Glancing around the room is their new past-time.

You haven’t listened to a podcast, read a book, a magazine, article, or a blog in the past two weeks. (Sure, you know your sports. Congrats, but if the other person isn’t interested, you’ll lose them. Have a couple of bullets in that gun.)

The Real Test and Solution

You might pass this little test. Sure, some of these are extreme and you’re wise enough to pick up on them, but I’d try this question on your colleagues:

“Tell me honestly, when I’m speaking in front of people, what can I do to improve?”

The key is—what can I do to improve? 

Don’t ask them a yes or no question: “Am I boring?” They can say no, update their Facebook and walk away. Go into it knowing you need to improve, because then you get honest feedback—and you can go from there.

Don’t be defensive—take in what they have to say and learn from it and adapt.

Becoming interesting, someone people will elbow to talk to is key to opportunities and a richer life.

What do you do to prevent being boring? What’s interesting about you when you go into a presentation or conversation?

About Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae has presented all over the world from South Africa to Afghanistan. He has spoken and designed presentations for Fortune 100 companies and wants this tech-focused culture to be able to speak well and with confidence.

Leave a Reply