Chapter 22

Ten Ways to Keep Your Audience Awake

Nothing frightens a public speaker more than the prospect of the audience falling asleep during the speech. Here are some things you can do to prevent that from happening. (Yawn.)

Don’t Forget Your Purpose

Too many presenters ramble on and on with no clear sense of purpose. The temptation is to throw in every clever quotation and every interesting tidbit you can muster that is even remotely related to the topic of your presentation. The reason that this temptation is so strong is that you most likely haven’t identified what you hope to accomplish with your presentation. In other words, you haven’t pinned down your purpose.

Don’t confuse a presentation’s title with its purpose. Suppose that you’re asked to give a presentation to a prospective client on the advantages of your company’s new, improved, deluxe model ChronSimplastic Infindibulator. Your purpose in this presentation is not to convey information about the new Infindibulator, but to persuade your client to buy one of the $65 million beasties. The title of your presentation might be Infindibulators for the 21st Century, but the purpose is “Convince these saps to buy one, or maybe two.”

Don’t Become a Slave to Your Slides

PowerPoint makes such beautiful slides that the temptation is to let them be the show. That’s a big mistake. You are the show — not the slides. The slides are merely visual aids, designed to make your presentation more effective, not to steal the show. ...

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