How to Make Dry Content More Engaging

Let me guess: you’ve read all the blogs, all the books, and all the advice on how to be a better public speaker, but you still feel stuck because you think your content is boring and no amount of eye contact, gestures, or vocal variety will make your audience stop glazing over. Maybe you didn’t write it, but it’s your job to communicate it and you’re dreading the blank stares and the fake “note taking” (i.e. texting) from your audience.

I hear you! Some topics are naturally more exciting than others. Let me help you make dry content more engaging and interesting.

Have a Favorite Part

This sounds silly, but it’s so incredibly important. If YOU think the information is uninteresting it’s hard to convince your audience otherwise. Review the material and find a part you connect with. Maybe it’s something that’s personally helped you, something that aligns with your professional passions, or just something you think is cool or interesting.

Then, when you get to that part of the talk, say something like, “Alright everyone, pay attention to this step right here because it’s my favorite part” or “if you remember one thing from this meeting today, make it this.” Phrases like this are called “wake up phrases.” (By me. I call them that.) A “wake up phrase” is a verbal trigger to the audience to stop zoning and pay attention. It’s a way of keeping an audience engaged.

Wake up phrases also humanize your content. You’re not a robot reading PowerPoint slides, you’re a person. A person with likes, dislikes, experience, and failures. Audiences relate to PEOPLE not just content, so humanizing your dull content can make it sparkle a bit more.

Sell the Result

Presenters cringe at content when they think the audience doesn’t care and doesn’t want to hear it. Anyone who has ever sat through a meeting that could have been an email understands this. Instead, don’t focus on the content, focus on the RESULT the content will bring.

What is a shared struggle your audience has? A shared frustration? Focusing on how your content will solve a shared problem has two benefits: 1. It gives people a reason to care and 2. It creates a sense of rapport and understanding.

When I coach speakers, I tell them to literally put a piece of paper in front of them that says “Why Should They Care? So What?” If you speak for more than a few minutes without answering those questions, address them before moving on.

Replace Numbers with People

Speaking of humanizing content…we all know how important stories are when making content memorable and engaging. I’ve heard from more than a handful of presenters that “my content doesn’t lend itself to stories.” Sure it does.

Need help inserting a story? Find a number in your presentation, and replace it with a person. Like this:

 “36% of people have a better day after doubling the amount of creamer in their coffee” (completely made up statistic, but if feels true doesn’t it?)

becomes: “Let me tell you about how Emily’s day changed for the better after spilling a little extra caramel creamer in her coffee mug…”

Obviously this isn’t going to work in every situation, but if you find yourself listing a ton of steps, or explaining a lot of details, look for opportunities to insert stories. They give your audience a listening anchor to land on for a bit while processing and reinforcing the other details you’ve just relayed.

Need additional help? Contact EmilySchwartzSpeaks@gmail.com I’m happy to chat!

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