Presenting tips part 4 : There are no boring people, only boring stories

If you don’t connect to your content then neither will your audience.

Now look, I know what it’s like.

You think no one cares about what you have to say, your topic is dry or you’ve been told to present something you don’t know a lot about.

But here’s the thing, if you think it’s boring, so will the audience.

Top tip: find what you connect with in your presentation

Your presentation will only be successful if you connect with your audience, so we always start there.

1. Audience first

  • What do they know already?
  • What do you want them to feel, think say and do?
  • What’s important to them?
  • What do they believe?
  • If they will only take one thing away from the presentation what do you want it to be?
  • As you answer these questions notice where you are the most passionate and enthusiastic. Where do the ideas flow easily? Where do you feel the most positive or angry?

This is where you have a connection to your topic.

When you talk about how you connect to the topic it helps to bring your audience along with you. It gives them something to connect to. Enthusiasm is infectious.

2. Start with why 

If you want your audience to sit up and take notice, then take it from Simon Sinek, start with why.

His TED talk How great leaders inspire action is an 18 minute masterclass in how  to structure your presentation so that you connect with your audience. To paraphrase him:

“People don’t connect with what you do they connect with why you do it.”

Let me explain a little more by showing what Simon calls the golden circle.

Image Description : Three concentric circles. The middle one is labelled why, the second one is labelled how and the outside one is labelled what. 

What: everyone know what they do and can talk about it with ease.
How: most people can explain how they do what they do.
Why: very few people can explain why they do what they do.

Most presentations go from the outside in, starting with the ‘what’ because it’s the clearest thing and finishing with the ‘why’ which is the fuzziest.

The most inspiring and compelling presentations flip that round.

They start with their purpose and tell the audience why they should care.

Trust me, watch it. It’s ok at 1.5x speed too.

3. Stories need details, details, details 

Think about your favourite fairy tales and the ways in which they are memorable.

It’s the big bad wolf, the wicked witch, sleeping beauty.

In a land far, far away, over the rainbow, a dark forest.

A friend once told me, “there are no boring people, only boring stories.”

And the way to make stories more engaging is through details and you can add them without breaking any confidentiality.

If you can’t use real names use pseudonyms e.g. So the CFO, let’s call them Sid…

If you can’t use a company name use a metaphor instead e.g. a scrappy new player in the energy sector, the methuselah of the insurance industry.

And then there is the trusty STAR technique you might know from interviews:

Image Description: A four pointed orange star. The labels say, Situation: Set the scene, what was going on? What help did they need? Task: What were asked to do? What needed to happen? Action: What did you do? What challenges came up? Result: What happened in the end. What did you learn? 


These little tweaks take your stories from snore to smile.

Give them a go and let me know how you get on.

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