Three minutes into the presentation, he asked a question. Dead silence.
“Quiet audience?” We chuckled.
However, in the next hour he told us we were quiet and unresponsive 11 times. Four times he said, “I have spoken to thousands of people and this is the most quiet audience.”
Would you be irritated? My wife and I were.
Did he intend to insult & irritate us? Nope. But it happened and it can happen to you.
Here are several ways we can unintentionally insult and offend our audiences.
Being Unprepared & Boring
People have given us their most precious asset- time. We never want listeners leaving and thinking, “That was a waste of time.” A few techniques from Become a Better Speaker in One Evening will liven up any presentation.
- “You are not very responsive.”
- “You look bored.”
- “You look tired.”
- “You are not getting what I am saying.”
Sometimes it’s very effective to state the obvious to the audience, but don’t blame.
- “I sense we are all dragging this morning.”
- “Let me make this clearer with this illustration.”
One time I was speaking and said, “Sometimes we can give a half-baked speech. It’s like pulling the bread out of the oven at 60 minutes instead of waiting the full 90 minutes.”
Later my mentor said, “Arlen, we know what half-baked bread is … you don’t have to explain it.”
He was right.
Watch out for this during Q&A. You may be giving a presentation on marketing with Facebook. Someone asks, “How do I set up an account?” 96% of the people in the room have Facebook. They do not want to sit through a 7 minute explanation.
You could say, “Great question. Talk to me later or email me and I’ll email you a link to instructions.” The other 99% will be secretly applauding you.
On the other side of the coin, don’t assume the audience knows every concept. Two months ago I spoke to a group on how to start and run a business based on my experience selling rocks to pay for college.
I used terms like “Fixed costs” & “Variable costs”. With each one I gave the meaning. If I was speaking to accountants, I would have skipped the explanation.
Rude / Putting them Down
Rudeness is shown through attitude & words. If you are a comedian and good at reading audiences, you may be able to get away with some of this. However, 97% of the time it is usually a bad idea.
Apply the ideas above and you’ll reduce the amount of irritation in the audience.