I came across a webpage offering ten rules not to break when giving a presentation. I thought some things were missing, so here are ten more in the same style.
Don’t use them. Few presentations—other than lectures—need them, fewer are improved by them and the vast majority are thereby degraded.
If you can tell jokes, tell a number of good, original ones. If you’re good at off the cuff one liners do those as they occur to you. You really do need to deploy at least one of these.
Just because there is a vanishingly small chance that one person in your vast audience is a congenital idiot, don’t assume we all are.
Too many speakers delivering ‘keynotes’ (ridiculous term) give the impression of someone playing the role of someone delivering a keynote, rather than just being authentic. Inauthenticity is easily spotted and very off-putting.
Tell stories. Remember that adults do not learn easily (or at all) from having content thrust at them, whether or not it is clear, legible and the rest. People learn when they are in their feelings.
Don’t ask the audience rhetorical questions like “do you know how it is when…?” if you have no intention of engaging in a dialogue with audience members about their responses at that moment.
Be thought provoking. As in 5, adults do not learn easily by having content thrust at them.
Many people confuse being right with needing to be right. Plenty of speakers seem to feel they need to justify why they are speaking to me by making sure I know how good they are. You may be (I hope you are), but telling me, however indirectly or even subconsciously, will just create resistance. And it pains me to say that, along with 4 above, some public speakers give a performance which seems to indicate they believe they are God’s gift to the audience. They aren’t.
9 Break outs
Never, ever ask the audience members to talk to the complete stranger they are sitting next to for five minutes about something such as their most humiliating experience. A presentation is not a workshop.
Don’t force yourself to make up an arbitrary number of points just because ten, say, is a round number.
© 2013 Jeremy Marchant . image: Free images