Mike Moyer: Why Most Presentations Suck
Let’s face it: most presentations suck. Not so much because the content is bad, after all, people don’t usually gather around to listen to an idiot present. The problem is that presentations are generally pretty boring to watch. It’s’ usually someone standing in front of the room clicking through a PowerPoint deck while droning on about sales, or training, or corporate performance or other very important, but not very engaging, topic. It can be painful.
Why Most Presentations Suck and What to Do About It!
Presentations are boring because they usually lack action or, if there is a little action it’s often illogical action like pacing back and forth. Logical action during a presentation is as important as logical action in a movie. What’s more fun to watch: Yoda in a light-saber fight, Yoda in a Jedi council meeting, or Yoda puttering around his mud hut on Dagobah?
Most people will agree that a well-choreographed light-saber fight is much more engaging than a Jedi council meeting because it’s more fun to watch, not because of the dialog or content. Using well-choreographed body movements during your presentation can make it much more engaging for the audience.
There are two main components to think about when you choreograph your presentation. The first is the stage upon which you will present and the second is the way your body moves in terms of where you are at any given time and your hands, arms, face, etc. move.
While you may actually be on a stage, in most cases professionals present in conference rooms or smaller settings where there is no actual stage. In order to give a compelling presentation, you must be prepared to stand up and present rather than sit down. It’s not much fun to watch someone present from a seated position.
Because you will be standing up and moving around, you will need to maximize your space. Move aside any chairs, tables, power chords or silly podiums so you have plenty of space to move.
Next, divide the space into three different “zones.” The first zone is right up front and close to your audience. This is the “intimacy” zone and it is from here where you will connect with your audience on a personal level by telling stories or listening to questions from audience members. Coming out close to the audience will allow you to create a better rapport with everyone attending.
The next zone, called the “excitement” zone, is all the space between the projector screen and the intimacy zone. From here you can move around, be expressive and pump-up the crowd for your ideas, solutions and main points. The more space you have, the better. Yoda can’t use his light saber in a confined area and neither can you.
The last zone is the “information” zone and it’s right up in front of the screen which allows you to physically point to facts, figures, diagrams and other dense information. It’s much easier to follow the speaker through a financial statement if he or she is pointing to the areas of the slide being discussed.
Dividing the stage into three parts will allow you to interact with your audience in new ways and ensure your message is being understood. Some content is best presented from the information zone, like financial data or complex flowcharts, while other content is more personal in nature and should be presented from the intimacy zone. With the zones, you always have a place to be other than standing still.
The key when it comes to moving your body is to make sure your movements are logical and reflect the message coming out of your mouth. Illogical movement, like pacing back and forth or flapping your hands around, is annoying and distracting.
Each zone has a corresponding set of body movements that work well. When you’re in the intimacy zone your body movements should be more controlled and small. In the excitement zone you can raise your arms in the air, make broad gestures and move fluidly. In the information zone you’ll need outstretched arms to point to your slides and direct eye contact so you can pickup on cues from the audience if they are confused on what you’re saying. An audience member with crossed arms, for instance, may not fully understand that you are talking about.
How you stand will have a major impact on how you are perceived. Standing with your shoulder to the audience will make you look timid, but you will exude confidence if you square off with the audience and show your armpits in a “Wonder Woman” stance.
From the exactment zone, you can emphasize your main speaking points by taking a few steps to the left or the right. Moving your body helps people follow your words and separating each point with a few steps creates a logical rhythm that makes your presentation more fun to watch.
Be mindful of your hands and match your hand movements with your words. For instance, showing a thumbs-up for rising profits makes your message clearer to the audience. Counting your main points on your fingers helps keep people on track. A few simple, logical, hand movements can have a big impact.
Making it Memorable
Taking full advantage of the stage and moving your body in simple, but logical ways will instantly enhance your credibility and influence. People will actually enjoy watching you present and will remember what you told them more clearly.
It doesn’t take much to improve because the bar is set pretty low. So, the next time you present be Yoda the Jedi Light Saber master instead of Yoda the boring administrative know-it-all.
Who Is Mike Moyer?
Mike Moyer is an award-winning speaker and author of eight books including Pitch Ninja: Persuasive Pitching and Presenting. He has served on the faculty of Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and MIT. Mike has held a number of senior-level marketing and sales positions at companies that produce everything from vacuum cleaners to motorhome chassis to fine wine. Mike owns and operates a SaaS company, called Slicing Pie, that provides support to early-stage startup companies and MosquitOasis, LLC, a company that designed and markets camping equipment. He lives in Lake Forest, IL.