Presenting The Boring Topic

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How do you present a boring topic? Well, the short answer is that you don’t. You may feel that your subject is boring and everyone else has more inherently interesting ones to work with, but let me assure you, your subject is fine. While it may require a little extra work to make it something interesting, it is possible.  

So, if you’re going in thinking that you have to convey a whole bunch of dull stuff to a group of disinterested people, you’re already doomed. You’ve got to start thinking about your topic differently and find something that your audience can find interesting or of value. 

Here are some ways to turn around your thinking and get your audience interested: 

1. Don’t Open Software 

People can rob themselves of the opportunity to create an engaging presentation by jumping straight into the very software used to create it. Becoming fixated on the task of filling the blank slides, they soon default to the same tired templates and dragging presentation styles they’ve always used.  

Instead of retreating into the safety net of preapproved templates, try something new. 

  • Doodle 
  • Brainstorm 
  • Word associate 
  • Chat with coworkers 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Meditate

Do something besides turn on your computer. You need to clear your mind, stop thinking about how boring your topic is, and start figuring out why you’re going to present your topic in the first place. 

2. Think tweets 

Now that you’ve banished the “boring” idea from your mind, you’re ready to figure out what about the topic is important to your audience, how it can make their professional lives better, and why they should listen to you about it. Unless you can answer those questions in a brief statement, it’s quite possible that “boring” term is going to creep back into your thoughts. However, once you’re able to convey the basis of your presentation in a short opening statement, much like a tweet of your topic, you’re ready to begin. Keep that idea of tweets in mind to remind you that everything you say to your audience needs to be relevant to the topic and to keep your presentation short and to the point. 

3. Start with why 

Why are you presenting this topic? That is exactly what your audience will start out thinking, so you better know. If you can’t tell your audience why you’re presenting the topic and why it should matter to them, you’re going to lose them shortly after you start speaking. If you don’t give them a reason to listen, they won’t. Start your presentation with your topic tweet to grab your audience’s attention and hook them early. 

4. Be interested to be interesting 

If you think your topic is boring, then how can you expect your audience to view it as anything else? If your audience senses a disinterest from you, that disinterest will spread to everyone in the room. However, if you show genuine interest in your topic, the audience will start to as well. It’s human nature and is called Social Curiosity.  

If you see a group of people pointing up at the sky, you’re going to look. If you see several coworkers hovering around something, you’re going to go over and peek.  

You can use this aspect of human nature in your presentation, but you can’t fake it. Convey real interest and see how it peaks your audience’s curiosity.

5. Tell them a story 

Everyone loves a story. Presenting your content in story form will make it more engaging and memorable to your audience – science proves it. You can tell a personal story, or one that you’ve heard, and relate it back to the topic at hand. You can make up a story to go along with your topic.  

Stories are “sticky,” they help keep the content in your audience’s minds. If your story connects to your audience’s emotions, even better. People who have an emotional connection to a topic are more likely to remember it. Science backs this statement as well.  

6. Look alive up there

Don’t be boring.  

Inject your presentation with anecdotes, metaphors, humor, etc. Humor can be very effective for “dull” topics because the audience isn’t expecting it. 

Don’t be afraid to break the flow of the presentation when needed. A quick break to insert a relevant audience poll, graphic, or video can keep you from droning on and overloading or boring your audience.  

Let your personality show through when you’re presenting. If you’re funny, add humor. If you’re witty, a work-appropriate quip could work. Don’t try to fit into a “presenting” personality because it will come off as uncomfortable and disingenuous and your audience won’t buy it. 

7. If all else fails, make it a contest 

Just about everyone gets amped up when there’s competition involved. We recently presented a new company-wide learning platform and held a badge-a-thon to bolster adoption, complete with prizes and a year-end award. The competition aspect resulted in above expected adoption rates and employees taking the initiative to complete extra training on their own.  

Offer Easter eggs, a little something hidden throughout your presentation for the audience to find. Let your audience know there are references to something hidden throughout and that you’ll be asking to see who found them all at the end of the presentation. People pay attention when competition is on the line.  

Try out some of these various practices to find which ones work for you because by taking a little extra time and putting in a little bit more work, you can transform those “boring” topics into presentations that your audience will be interested to hear.  

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