So, there you are, sitting through yet another boring presentation. As you are actively not listening and you sit back in your chair, you suddenly feel the sharp poke of an elbow from your neighbor. That's when you realize that you've been asleep. What's worse is that as your eyes open, the first vision you see is that of your management glaring at you in disgust. Only after the meeting are you informed of how long, and sometimes how loud, you were sleeping. Has this happened to you or someone you know?
Surviving a boring presentation or meeting is a key skill. Teachers and professors in school, executives and co-workers in business, the leaders in your place of worship, and community and social club leaders all feel respected and appreciated when you listen and disrespected when you donât. However, the ultimate insult is to sleep through their presentation. Falling asleep or otherwise appearing disinterested can also affect how your teachers, staff, co-workers, management, church leaders and congregation perceive you. And letâs not forget the potential of missing great information hidden beneath the presenterâs inability to captivate you.
Here are 5 strategies for surviving boring presentations.
1. Sit Up To Stay Up
Think about your body language during a presentation you were interested in, and mirror that. You may have sat on the edge of your seat. Your feet may have been flat or on the balls of your feet. Your head was possibly slightly slanted, your eyes slightly more open than usual, and your body core was more than likely turned towards the presenter. This is the body language of active listening.
When you sit up to stay up in this fashion, not only will you stay awake, but also you will take in the content of the presentation, despite the information's delivery. That body language also communicates to others in the room and the presenter that you are attentive, interested, and that you find the information important, whether you do or not. This is especially necessary to communicate to those you lead, as they tend to follow the behavior of their leader. Also, the person presenting may perceive you with higher regard for being attentive during their presentation, rather than as someone who insulted them by sleeping through what they perceive to be of great interest.
2. Nod and Smile
For those of you that have presented to an audience before, you know that speakers will seek out positive affirmation from the audience. That connection typically comes from the nodders and smilers in the audience. These people demonstrate that they are understanding and enjoying the material as it is being presented. This encourages the speaker to deliver the remainder of the presentation with enthusiasm, as it appears to be appreciated.
As the presenter is speaking, just nod the "yes nod" while smiling as the speaker makes each point. You'll notice when you do this that the speaker will automatically start speaking in your direction because they see you as "getting it". Some times presenters will thank you after a presentation for connecting with them, because you are acknowledging the speaker. This nodding and smiling also keeps you engaged in the presentation, as you are now an active participant. After all, it's hard to fall asleep during a presentation if you become a participant in it.
Nodding and smiling completes the communication loop. The presenter sends the messages, and you communicate back receipt of that message.
3. Take Notes
Regardless of your interest in the style or content of the presentation, take good notes. Before each meeting or presentation begins, endeavor to take notes as if you were going to present this same topic to someone else. Your notes should be neat and organized, and should logically group the data for easy reference in the future. For those of you that would like to make note taking more useful, fun, and have greater recall ability, learning about Mind Mapping in your local bookstore or on the Internet is recommended.
When you take notes during a presentation, the information seems to be easier to remember. If you later review your notes, your comprehension and memory of the presentation goes up significantly. If you re-review your notes a week or 2 later, your memory of the content goes through the roof.
In addition to all of these great benefits, because you are actively listening and taking notes, you will be actually interested throughout the presentation, rather than pretending to be.
4. Ask Questions
As the presentation begins, write down in your notes 3 questions you derive from what you've heard in the first few minutes of the presentation. Your mind will always seek to answer questions. Having open questions written down in your notes will actually force you to pay attention as you listen for the answers.
If the presentation delivered doesn't answer the questions you've written down or any new questions you generated as the presentation progressed, then directly ask the speaker. Presenters will usually ask if there are any questions. Take that opportunity to ask your questions. You'll usually find that others in the audience will have the same question, and will appreciate that you asked. In addition, questions make the presentation more meaningful for the listening audience.
Your open questions will create interest in the presentation content, regardless of its delivery.
5. Bring Something to Drink
This is not as simple as it sounds. If you bring a sugary or caffeine heavy drink with you to a particularly long presentation or meeting, the subsequent energy crash could make you fall asleep!
You are going to want to bring something to drink that provides energy without the spike and crash. A bottle of water or a cup of green tea are great choices for boring presentations. Just having something to drink gives you a socially acceptable thing to do during the presentation. It also will assist in providing even and longer lasting boosts of energy.
One word of caution - having something to drink does not imply that having something to eat is also acceptable. Eating during a presentation can be noisy, as is the case with candy wrappers or potato chips. Eating something can also be distracting due to its smell, both good and bad. Stay away from the food, unless food is provided during the presentation and everyone is eating. Stick with the cup of water or green tea to remain engaged with a little assistance.
James LeGrand is the publisher of SpiritualIndividual.com, a free weekly newsletter dedicated to demonstrating how we can each live spiritually everyday, everywhere and in every way. The newsletter is based on the philosophies of James LeGrand, Author of "Evolve!", an Amazon.com best seller in Religion and Spirituality. LeGrand is also a life coach and a Fortune 500 Vice President in Project Management. He is also a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.