The Idea: Most presentations lack a story. Ironically, those who have the most information – analysts, creatives or researchers – often do the least with it. Presentations become littered with too many charts, unconnected ideas and irrelevancy. Sadly, most people in the room don’t let on that they are not interested or are getting bored. And it’s not their fault. The brain is lazy and irrelevant material causes us to look for short cuts or even shut down altogether. We get bored. 

Where presentations go wrong 

I was recently sharing with a team that only 1 in 20 people remember statistics after a presentation, yet over half remember a cohesive story. Facts matter, right? With almost three quarters of the buying experience being determined by how the customer feels they are treated, facts matter only when they build on an idea or uncover a deeper truth.  

Psychologist Glenn Wilson found that the pre-frontal cortex, which helps us prioritize tasks, is easily distracted when presented with new information or too many priorities. Confusing or too much information causes our IQ to fall by as much as 10 points. Too many charts make everyone in the room less smart. We must learn to radically simplify our discussions and get to the point more quickly. 

Being succinct isn’t just the antidote to dumbed-down conversations; it’s the answer. Studies show that we listen at a rate 3 times faster than most people speak. When we are too wordy (or repeat ourselves too often), we are not convincing and distract others from the larger story.  

On average, we spend 60 percent of our conversations talking about ourselves rather than encouraging deeper discussions. Too much unnecessary dialogue damages a good story, boring our audience and causing frustration.   

The Difference  

Excessive dialogue plagues most of us, but the most effective influencers develop communication intuition. When they sense they are talking too much, they reassess the needs of the group. They immerse in empathy and listen to what is both said and not said, creating genuine encounters with others.  

While we have slowly evolved from “how can I be convincing” to “how can I be understood,” the best presentations are more than that.They are moments to facilitate higher-level conversations and discovery. And once your ego has left the room, you will be shocked by what you can learn from your audience. The real question is to ask, “what am I hearing?” 

Are your presentations boring others? 

When we present ideas, we may get long-winded and our audiences’ minds may wander. We must be smarter with how we structure business meetings and presentations. Like any conversation, after 90 seconds, it’s time to ask a question or pause, allowing the discussion to breath. If presentations are truly a “one-on-one” game, the rules demand that the other person get the ball.  

Apply the 90-second rule and start listening.