Whenever I see somebody who chooses to read out a presentation speech rather than deliver something more natural I’m sure about two things.
First, the presenter will come away thinking that it didn’t go too badly. And second, that people in the audience will have a completely different perception.
So here’s how this situation might play out in two different minds, with very different perspectives.
Presenter. People understand that not everyone feels comfortable delivering a presentation. I bet 80% of the audience would hate to be where I am right now. So even if the delivery isn’t great, I’m sure they will give me a bit of leeway because of my nerves. Actually, I was just going to use a few brief notes to make it a bit more natural but I ran out of time to practise. It really shouldn’t make that much difference if I just read out the presentation, should it? After all they are interested in what I’m saying, not how I say it.
Audience member. I wasn’t expecting Tom Peters, but please: a bit of effort and preparation wouldn’t go amiss. I don’t list presenting on my top 10 list of things to do, but at least I try to make it sound interesting when I have to do it.
You know, it really would be far worse if I tried to remember my speech or to adlib. There are certain things I need to say, so if I have a detailed speech to work from I know I’m not going to miss out anything important. Look at all that bother Ed Milliband got into when he forgot to mention the deficit – I’m not going to risk that. Yes, it’s much safer to stick to the script. Actually, this isn’t going as badly as I thought it might.
Surely there are ways to remember what you wanted to say without reading out: Every. Single. Word! A few key words written down as prompts perhaps? The problem is that my mind keeps wandering off and I miss half of what this bloke’s going on about. Why didn’t he just send us a copy of his speech and we could all have been spared a painful experience.
At least I remembered to keep looking up from time to time - I remember being told it was important to keep doing that to connect with your audience. Yep, I think I’m going to get through this.
20 minutes of staring at the top of somebody’s head as they read their speech. Even when he did look up he just focused briefly on the wall at the back of the room. I wonder if he noticed the raised eyebrows and looks of disbelief and desperation around the table as he droned on. The person next to me gave up and started sending messages on her smartphone – I wonder if he saw?
Actually, I think that went OK - for a non-presenter, anyway. At least I got out everything I wanted to say. I think I’ll probably stick to a script in future as it’s so much safer and it helps me get through.
Here’s how I see it. If you’re delivering a presentation, that means it’s part of your job. You might not relish the prospect, but you really have a responsibility to present as well as you can. It isn’t about you and your insecurities; it’s about your audience. There are plenty of places you could get help but you chose not to. THAT was an uncomfortable experience for everyone. And, frankly, that’s all I remember about it.
Are you tempted to take the easy way out and read your presentations word for word? What seems like a safe option is actually a huge missed opportunity.
With the right help anyone can be come a confident and convincing presenter.
Find out more, or call me on 01963 240555
Hugh Graham, The Bid Coach
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.