The two deadly sins of public speaking are 1) confusing the audience, and 2) boring them.
Both are common. I’m not sure which is worse.
I’ve dealt with how not to confuse your audience elsewhere (7 Ways to Clarify Technical Material without Dumbing It Down). So let me suggest…
7 Ways Not to Bore Your Audience
1.Never talk about something that bores you.
If you’re assigned a topic that doesn’t excite you, either beg out of it or dig deep into it and find something interesting about it.
2. Never talk to an audience you don’t like.
If you don’t like the people you’re talking to, you’ll find them boring. And you’ll be boring in return, or peevish, which is just as bad. (Okay, you many not like everyone you talk to, but you can’t dislike them.)
3. Don’t give so many presentations.
A presentation is not the only way to communicate ideas or information. Often, it isn’t even the best way. Find other means of sharing what you know. Make people want to hear from you, not tire of listening to you.
4. Be brief.
It’s easier to maintain your enthusiasm and your audience’s interest in short installments. When’s the last time you wished a speaker had gone on longer? Exactly.
5. Use humor.
Laugh at yourself or at the absurdity of life as we know it or a peculiarity of your topic. Levity is always welcome, especially when it is least expected (as in a speech).
6. Tell a story.
I love stories. You love stories. We all love stories. So tell a story. It’ll help, of course, if it pertains to your topic and somehow illustrates it. But I’ve been known to tell a story just for the heck of it, and no one was the worst for it.
7. Promote a novel idea.
A speech is only as good or as interesting as the idea it proposes. So come up with a good idea, an original. Being original is hard work, especially in today’s business environment where everyone is too busy to think, which is one reason I suggest giving fewer presentations. If everyone already knows what you’re talking about, why talk about it?
What are your suggestions?