There are many ways to sink a presentation:

** Standing with your back to the audience
** Droning on and on and on (and on)
** Waffling and rambling
** Having information-overload slides
** Being arrogant and superior
** Moving around like a tennis ball at Wimbledon

These can all detract from your message, but none of them come close to the real presentation killer, and here it is.


Being the only one that speaks during your presentation is like having friends over for dinner and not allowing them to say anything.

Even if you are super-interesting, they will feel unheard and unseen, and perhaps even bored.  We can be pretty sure they’re not going to be in any rush to accept your next dinner invitation.

So why is it then that most presentations turn into a monologue, yet speakers are surprised that audience members reach for their cell phones, email or Facebook?


Having a dialogue with your audience serves a number of functions:

1. It keeps them interested (and their energy high, and Facebook forgotten).

2. It takes the spotlight off you, you don’t have to pre-prepare every single word to fill your entire allotted time.

3. It respects the audience, their experience and insights.

This changes everything.

When the audience participates in the conversation they are CONTRIBUTING energy to the event rather than you being the only that outputs ENERGY while theirs sink lower and lower with every never-ending slide. 


If you are an expert in your field, why spend hours or days pre-preparing what you want to tell your audience?

How about asking them first which parts they’d be most interested in, and then delivering on those?  (If you don’t know your topic well, best stay with those PowerPoints, heh?)


1. Ask questions.

2. Ask them every now and again if they follow and if they’re still with you.

3. When you explain a topic or concept, ask them what they know about it first (many speakers present as if they’re the only one in the room that knows anything about the topic, and treat their audience as stupid in the process).

4. After every segment, get the audience to partner up with the person next to them and have a quick 30 second or 1-minute conversation about what they just heard (and hopefully, learnt!).

5. Tell stories.


In your very next presentation pick one of these (or create your own) and see the difference.


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Author's Bio: 

Bennie Naude is the creator of 'Fall in Love with Presenting' which he teaches internationally.

He has presented at around 200 events in 15 countries over the last 20 years and currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.