5 Ways to Avoid Charlie Brown Teacher Syndrome

The impatient drumming of fingers…
The swivel heads that are looking anywhere *but* the stage…
The bright lights of mobile screens that illuminate the ballroom…

These are signs that your audience has left the building – at least in spirit.

According to researcher John Medina, who penned Brain Rules, people check out around the 10-minute mark during presentations. If they haven’t actively moved on to something else, all they are hearing is the waa-waa-waa Charlie Brown speak.

Not particularly memorable.

So how do you get your audience to stay with you for your entire talk? Try these tips from Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

1. Use Video
Most people start their presentations with video, but this is a missed opportunity. Get more mileage by embedding it within the speech.

2. Ask a Rhetorical Question
Our minds perk up when we hear an upward inflection, and when asked, immediately race to answer.

3. Tell a Story
We are hardwired for stories. And as soon as a presenter gives the setup, we tune in. Of course, if you are going to include a story, make sure it’s a good one – with a beginning, middle and end, some characters, and a challenge to overcome.

4. Do A Demonstration
There’s a reason why actions speak louder than words. The audience can listen to you go on and on about the new website, app, or process…or you could bring it to life – via a product demo or even an comedy sketch.

5. Introduce another speaker
Share the load by having another speaker present with you, either on the stage or in the audience. It can be a panel, interview, or joint presentation. We have even helped our clients do presentations from different parts of the room – for example from satellite stages – very effectively.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the importance of breaking the pattern.
(Well, that *and* having really great content!)