April 19, 2017 fm

When The Audience Starts To Mentally Vomit

What is the second slide in a PowerPoint presentation after the deadly boring title slide? Sometimes it’s the deadly boring agenda; sometimes, and that is even worse, it’s the “About me” slide. When the audience sees the “About me” slide they start to mentally vomit.

Having said that, the “About me” slide is supposed to serve a good purpose. You as a speaker have to build up your ethos, your credibility. You have to build it up because your credibility as a speaker is not God-given. Two main drivers of credibility are your reputation and your expertise. This is exactly what speakers want to proof by showing the “About me” slide.

But – picture the scene. You’re sitting in an audience at a conference. The next speaker takes the stage. After his dull welcome he quickly leaves his boring title slide behind. Then, he spits out that standard sentence: Before I share with you some valuable insights about the latest research results on dark matter, let me first tell you a little bit about me.


As a member of this speaker’s prestigious audience, you expect new insights, new ways of seeing old habits, entertainment, stories, motivation, inspiration. You do not expect a boring CV that you can look up in LinkedIn in three seconds.

Here’s a better way to build up your ethos as a speaker. I call them EBAs – ethos building anecdotes. It’s easy. Just throw all your reputation and expertise into anecdotes.

That speaker could’ve started his presentation like this:

It was a rainy October day in 1988 when I arrived at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire for the first time. It’s better known as CERN, the world’s most advanced research center. I remember the waving white dress of Professor Miller who picked me up at the gate that day. Back then he was the leading expert on dark matter. He was the one to introduce me to this fascinating world of the unknown. 

Now the speaker has your full attention.

While you can always share these EBAs at different points of your presentation, it is highly recommendable to share one of them at the beginning of your talk, especially when you speak to people who don’t know you. It will drive your ethos right from the start.

Turn your “About me” slide into EBAs – your audience will love it!

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