I’m a good speaker. Evaluations tell me so. Clients who rehire me year after year tell me so. Clients who remember what they heard in my sessions from 5, 10, 20 years ago tell me so. But I’ve just recently learned the key to delivering the best presentation ever.
Present after a bad speaker.
There is nothing so appreciated by an audience than when a good speaker speaks energetically, passionately, meaningfully, after a boring, self-centered, ill-prepared one.
What you don’t want to do, of course, is be that bad speaker. Whether you’re an executive, board member, book author (self-published or real), or formerly-important-person-now-making-a-living-by-telling-groups-what-used-to-be-important-to-know, believe me, you don’t want to be that bad speaker. Here’s how to avoid being the gift to the one who follows you:
Update your information. The speaker I heard recently (who I blessedly followed) used examples from CEOs who are no longer CEOs except she didn’t know that, or at least spoke like they were currently in that position. Maybe instead of update your information, this tip should be honor your audience with relevance.
Enough about you. Maybe I’m just jealous. But when you mention your former title more than six times in a 60 minute presentation, I think you’re resting on what used to be. Doesn’t matter if you climbed a mountain, managed the White House, or beat Mickey Mantle. If you have to keep saying (over and over and over), “When I beat Micky Mantle…” I’m thinking you have nothing current to say.
Know when to stop. Dale Carnegie said, “No one ever shot a speaker who ended early.” No matter how brilliant you truly are, when your time is up, it’s up. The meeting planner has other things planned like a break, another session, a meal.Unless you ask – and receive approval – from the organizer and the group itself, stick to your alloted time. It is not enough to say, “I know I’ve run a bit over but are there any questions?” It would be oh so much kinder if, instead, you ended on time and said, “I’m happy to stay to take questions during your next break.”
Get professional help. Your slide deck should enhance your presentation not be it. Reading from your slides when your audience can, or reading them because you have so many words on them that your audience can’t, isn’t compelling. Start with Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen blog and book. Do yourself and your audience a favor.
But if you aren’t going to do any of these things, do me a favor, and present before I do.