There are simple ways to make a boring presentation more interesting. If you talk about a dry topic in a dull manner, your audience will struggle to stay attentive.
And if the objective of your speech or presentation is to create change of some sort – opinion, action or education – then attention is only the first hurdle. Next, you need to make an impact and make it memorable.
This can feel like an intimidating challenge: some topics don’t appear to offer much scope for engagement and drama.
But there are simple language choices you can make to add interest, whatever your subject matter.
As our example, imagine that you need to give a talk on Customer Service in your organisation. We’ll look at five ways you could communicate the message ‘Our customer service needs to be improved’ more powerfully.
“Me talking to you about improving customer service is a complete waste of time… But any of us doing something that improves our customer service is time well spent.”
A surprising phrase will make your audience pay attention, as their expectations are jolted. The second line then mirrors and twists the first. The use of personal pronouns – me, you and us – keep the sentence active and involve your audience.
“Three unanswered calls; two unhappy customers; five wasted minutes hanging onto the phone. Would you accept that from BT? So why should anyone accept that from us?”
This uses a set of three – a powerful tool in spoken language – in the first sentence. Then it connects the issue to an experience we all recognise before tying it back to the task in hand.
“This morning, Mary waited 20 rings for her call to be answered. When the phone was finally picked up by John, the CSR, he denied all knowledge of her case. He suggested she call back next week.”
Using a story structure creates the right frame of mind in your listeners. Stories convey a challenging perspective in a safe way, avoiding putting your audience on the defensive. Read about the seven ways stories can make your speeches and presentations more powerful here.
“What did you do today to improve your customers’ experience? And what could you have done? I want to show you three simple ideas that you can use every day to make your customers happier.”
Here, using two rhetorical questions prompts the audience to start to answer them in their heads. The second half shares up-front the benefits that listeners will get from continuing to pay attention.
“When the customer rings – hear them sing. When the customer moans, listen to them on the phone.”
Our brains love rhyme and rhythm, which is why we find it so easy to remember songs. If you include a rhyme you can help the audience recall the main takeaway of your talk or presentation.
Each of these examples shows how small, easy language choices can transform a dull lecture into an engaging talk.
At first, it might feel odd to consciously change the way you use language, but after a little practise these techniques will soon become part of your public speaking toolkit.
First, download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter.
You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming your presentations into your most Powerful Presentations yet: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.
It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your leadership talks and presentations, including:
Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Improve your Leadership Talks ebook now.
Benjamin Ball Associates specialise in bringing complex, dry topics to life. We can enable you to communicate clearly, confidently and with impact, in time for your upcoming talk or presentation.
Call Louise on 020 7193 0130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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