This is why people don’t listen to you in your presentations!

boring presenttaionsLook, you ask me why people don’t listen you in your presentations.  Why they snooze, dose, check their phones and chat to their neighbours. Why they stare glassy-eyed and passive.  Why they sink further into their seats and look nervously at their watches.

Well here are some of the reasons:

1. You just haven’t thought of what they need to hear have you?  You have methodically and enthusiastically researched and listed all the pieces of information you need to tell them but not once have you considered the people (real humans by the way) that are sitting in front of you. It is as if they don’t even really have to be there. You are all ready and raring to go to TELL them everything.  Take some time, please, to look at the message you have to tell from the perspective of your audience.  Go on.  Put yourself in their shoes .  Imagine their experiences, worries, joys and desires and THEN tailor your message and content to that.  There is nothing that motivates an audience more and makes them feel good as someone who is talking with them and demonstrates understanding and rapport with them.

2. Oh for goodness sake, put away the PowerPoint just for one moment. Do you really need all that information up there only to repeat it and read it and regurgitate it?  A warm room, darkened for the slide show and a ‘reading’ voice is a quick fire way to send anyone to sleep.  Need a prompt?  Well, write one: use notes, cards, Pathway Planners – anything – but don’t write your script up there for everyone to skim read through and then promptly switch off.

3. Your voice is one of the most important tools you have at your disposal in a presentation – so make sure you make full use of it.  Go on – vary the speed, volume, pace.  Please please break away from the statements, the facts, the monotone descriptions and examples.  Let your voice live a little – give it stories to tell, conversations to relate, quotes to relive  and imaginations to set alight. Ask some questions so your voice goes up at the end, tell a story so you can ‘perform’.  The audience will love it, will listen to it and will remember the content to boot.

4. Make your presentations personal to the listener.  They are selfish listeners after all.  Not to be rude but they need to know what they are going to get out of spending an hour in your company and giving up of their time and freedom to sit and listen while you talk! Why should they listen if there is no WIIFM factor (What’s in it for me?). Why listen if the content appears to be irrelevant to them.  Audiences are compelled to listen when it affects them.  Use the word ‘you’, ‘us’, ‘we’.  Don’t talk about customers and clients – give them names, bring them alive, make it personal.

5. Why do you use 100 words when 10 would do? Why do you insist on giving us all the last detail when we can read about that later and all we really need is a clear message? Why waffle on with irrelevant information when you could be more succinct with less words, less information and we would take away more.  Less is more – learn this and repeat as a mantra.  Have a clear message, be ruthless with your content  (edit, edit, edit) and be super clear with your structure. Why make it hard for your audience to follow you, make sense of what you are saying and extract the meaning.  Do it for them…then they can relax, listen , absorb.

I could go on and won’t.  These five points are the main reasons people don’t listen and here are five ways to keep people engaged and listening:

1. Focus on the audience needs – it is what they need to hear not what you want to tell them

2. Use a prompt if you need to , just don’t make it PowerPoint.  Slides should be there to add clarity, reinforcement, simplicity and context.  Pictures do this amazingly well so put away the words!

3. Rehearse your presentation out loud so you can exercise the voice and stretch its capability.  Express yourself in ways which allow the voice to shine

4. Be grounded in the concrete. Make things personal

5. Be clear. Be clear. Be clear.  Clarity around message, content and structure is paramount.


If you would like to find out more about how White Hart Training can help you and your presentation skills, then call Catherine on 07946604859 or email on


, , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply