With respect to the recently concluded U.S. presidential campaign, we saw two of the least effective purveyors of presidential presentations in memory . . .
Let’s just say that both candidates could use major work to overhaul their respective presentation architectures.
And neither’s oratory will ever be mistaken for that of John F. Kennedy.
Both of them are/were just damned bad.
Could they have been any Worse?
It’s no secret why both candidates continued in their obviously grotesque styles of speaking – it’s the same reason that most CEOs persist with bad presentation habits. There is no up-side to critique the “boss” for those in a position to critique the boss.
Not if you value career survival.
And so we see a perpetuation of bad public speaking, a base level that never improves. Both of this year’s presidential candidates have identifiable tics and foibles that are easily correctable.
We’ll look, in turn, at each.
Here are some broad strokes for Mrs. Hillary Clinton.
Her voice is unpleasant. It rasps and her delivery is nothing short of hectoring. A fine line separates “exhortation” from “hectoring” and Mrs. Clinton is way over the line.
Let’s have a look . . .
Mrs. Clinton has the potential to become a competent speaker.
One key to this is for her to drop her “speaker’s persona” and to incorporate her reasonably satisfactory, natural one-to-one speaking style into her presentations in front of large audiences.
Mrs. Clinton alters her style significantly, depending on the size of audience. She becomes robotic, and adopts a mechanical voice and style.
A transparently calculating style.
Don’t Turn into a Robot
Her “big crowd” voice is contrived and she tends to shout while using only her voice box. The result of his inefficient and voice-degrading habit is to destroy voice quality. You can hear this in the accompanying video.
Her gestures are unnatural and awkward, as if bolted on.
None of this is incurable. It requires only awareness and the courage and determination to change.
If she wishes to become a better speaker, she would do well to spend time viewing film of her performances, not for content but for delivery.
The answers to her speaking dilemma can be found right here.
Are your “listeners” checking iPhones every few seconds?
Chatting in side conversations?
Do they sit with glazed, far-away looks while you deliver your presentation? Some call this the MEGO syndrome . . . Mine Eyes Glaze Over.
The problem is probably you.
No way are you delivering on what should be a passionate, especially powerful presentation.
How to Engage Your Audience in Your Presentation
In this video interview with Concentrated Knowledge Corporation’s Executive Insights Program, Andrew Clancy quizzes Dr. Stanley K. Ridgley (me) on how to engage your audience. An audience that may seem disconnected and disinterested in what you have to say in your business presentation.
Here, I identify a remedy for you – the secrets of how to hook and reel-in an errant audience. How to engage your audience for power and impact.
Here also are several tips on how to energize your presentation by discarding one of the most common speaking crutches and by moving into the Command Position.
The bar is so low with regard to business presentations that just making a few corrections of the sort discussed here can elevate your delivery tremendously.
Follow this advice to develop an especially powerful presentation.
Concentrated Knowledge Corporation produces Executive Summaries of many of the world’s great business books. You can review CKC’s site at www.summary.com
CKC also offers great short courses at no charge. This includes my favorite on business presentations, this one.
There is, of course, much more to delivering a powerful presentation. Conscientious presenters attend to all seven dimensions of the presentation – voice, expression, gesture, appearance, stance, passion, and movement.
Great speakers also leaven their presentations with poignant stories. Great speakers connect emotionally with their audience.
I’m gratified to be working with Soundview Executive Summaries again, and this new product of theirs is impressive.
Soundview is moving briskly onto the cutting edge of online learning. SoundviewPro launched today, and it’s a powerful business model that delivers great value.
Here’s how it works . . .
Business Presentations Video Instruction . . .
I’ve joined a number of other instructors to provide instruction in areas of expertise — mine, one hopes, is business presentations. Here’s the short promotional business presentations video . . . and no, as much as the still shot might suggest it, I’m not going through a facial transformation scene.
The description for my own business presentations video course appears here:
Far too many business presentations feature a speaker that could easily be part of the background. Stanley K. Ridgley, Ph.D. will put you in the command position and teach you to be (rather than give) your presentation.
Ridgley packs weeks of learning into six strategically designed classes that cover everything a business presenter needs to know. You’ll learn how to structure your message, the correct way to create visuals that match your critical points, and how to deliver a story that is as mesmerizing as it is memorable.
You’ll even learn the vital mechanics of presenting that are too often overlooked: posture and movement, voice techniques, hand gestures and how to interact with your visuals. In an entertaining course loaded with historical examples, you will discover that great business presenters aren’t born; they’re made. This is your opportunity to make yourself the next marquee speaker.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
•The importance of the Power Zone.
•A foolproof presentation structure.
•The power posture that projects confidence.
•How to transform an ordinary slide into an extraordinary visual.
•Why it is essential to make your audience the hero of every story.
Go to: www.soundviewpro.com to sign up for Soundview’s Business Presentations video course . . . it’s free.
The course is based on my business presentations book and has loads of visuals and supplementary materials available in addition to the videos.
Here’s a presenter who carefully follows the Three Ps of business presenting and quite obviously succeeds at his performance in a Gangnam Style Presentation.
The Three Ps, of course, are: Principles . . . Preparation . . . and Practice.
The presenter calls himself Psy.
In this Gangnam Style presentation, Psy engages the Seven Secrets of presenting – the principles of Voice, Expression, Gesture, Appearance, Stance, Passion, and Movement – for a stunning performance. Note that the acronym formed by those seven words is appropriate to this particular presentation:
Applying the Three Ps
Moreover, while Psy exhibits incredible professional presence, he doesn’t rely solely on his charisma to carry his presentation. He and his support team prepared meticulously for this performance, and they’ve obviously practiced much.
The presenter engages his audience, gives them exactly what they expected to receive, and encourages audience participation.
He exhibits tremendous focus on his main point, repeating his main point several times so that it isn’t lost – otherwise known as his song’s chorus – and he uses the same repeated choral movement to emphasize visually his song’s chorus.
View this Gangnam Style Presentation with these precepts in mind.
The comparison to superb business presenting is by no means a reach.
When you present, you give your audience a show. Accordingly, you should prepare your show according to principles almost identical to those used by any stage performer.
You might not expect the kind of crazed enjoyment of your business presentation exhibited by the audience in the video (and I congratulate you if you achieve it). But you can apply the precepts of presenting to meet your audience expectations, engage your listeners, and drive home your main point with repetition and focus.
Deliver a Gangnam Style Presentation
You can thoroughly prepare and practice your presentation, just as any worthy stage performer does. Respect for your audience and your message demands no less than that you employ the Three Ps of business presenting.
Do this consistently, and you increase your personal competitive advantage tremendously as someone known for capable and competent business presenting.
Some of the worst presentation advice I’ve ever heard given someone is this . . .
“Move around when you talk.”
That’s it. Nothing else.
This smacks of oral tradition and myth posing as wisdom.
“Move around when you talk.”
How Do You Move During a Business Presentation?
As with most myths, it’s based in a tiny kernel of truth. Maybe you should “move around” when you talk.
How should you move? We know we should. But how?
Specifically, how does this advice help anyone to become a better presenter? Do we roam aimlessly about the stage? Do we roll our shoulders in isolation movements?
Do we shuffle to-and-fro?
Aimless and purposeless movement is worse than no movement at all. The late Steve Jobs was infamous for his aimless roaming.
But wait! Didn’t Steve Jobs “move around” when he gave his famous Apple product launch keynotes?
Indeed he did! But you don’t have the luxury of a worshipful audience of 5,000 fanatics clamoring to see the latest technology that you plan to introduce. You do not have 35 years of political and business capital carefully cultivated and primed. You are not a billionaire celebrity CEO.
So you cannot learn how to move during a business presentation from a charismatic billionaire celebrity CEO who wields incredible power.
What you Do Have . . .
What you do have is the power to incorporate purposeful movement into your presentation. When you do, you will find your presentation gains power and impact. You make your points with vigor and confidence.
And your audience responds with the same passion that you invest.
In the video below, I suggest incorporating movement into your presentation in specific ways that enhance the power and impact of your message. [To watch directly on Youtube, click HERE]
You see it in the after-dinner talk, finance brief, or networking breakfast address.
While unrelenting positivity is probably the best approach to presentation improvement, it helps at times to see examples of what not to do. This is especially true when the examples involve folks of lofty stature who probably ought to know better.
The Emperor’s Bad Business Presentation
If they don’t know better, this is likely a result of the familiar syndrome of those closest to the boss not having the guts to tell the boss he needs improvement.
The speaker stands behind a lectern.
The speaker grips the lectern on either side.
The speaker either reads from notes or reads verbatim from crowded busy slides projected behind him.
The lectern serves as a crutch. The average speaker, whether student or corporate VP, appears afraid that someone might snatch the lectern away.
Many business examples illustrate this, and you’ve probably witnessed lots of them yourself.
Let’s take, for instance, Mr. Muhtar Kent, the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Coca-Cola.
Video rated PG-13: violence done to speaking skills
Mr. Kent appears to be a genuinely engaging person on occasions where he is not speaking to a group. But when he addresses a crowd of any size, something seizes Mr. Kent. He reverts to delivering drone-like talks that commit virtually every public speaking sin.
He delivers excruciatingly bad business presentations.
He leans on the lectern.
He squints and reads his speech from notes in front of him. When he does diverge from his speech, he rambles aimlessly.
In the video below, Mr. Kent delivers an October 2010 address at Yale University. He begins badly with a discursive apology, grips the lectern as if it might run away, does not even mention the topic of his talk until the 4-minute mark, and hunches uncomfortably for the entire 38-minute speech. Have a look . . .
Successful C-Suite businessmen and businesswomen, such as Mr. Kent, are caught in a dilemma – many of them are terrible presenters, but no one tells them so.
No one tells them, because there’s no upside in doing it. If you worked for Mr. Kent, would you tell him so? Of course not.
Moreover, many business leaders believe their own press clippings. They invest their egos into whatever they do.
It becomes impossible for them to see and think clearly about themselves. They tend to believe that their success in managing a conglomerate, in steering the corporate elephant of multinational business to profitability, means that their skills and judgment are infallible across a range of unrelated issues and tasks.
Such as business presenting.
And this is why you see so many bad business presentations by so many smart and powerful people.
Mr. Kent is by all accounts a shrewd corporate leader and for his expertise received in 2010 almost $25 million in total compensation as Coca-Cola CEO and Board Chairman. But he is a poor speaker. He delivers a bad business presentation, but . . .
But he has great potential that will probably never be realized.
And this is tragic, because many business leaders like Mr. Kent could become outstanding speakers and even especially powerful advocates of their businesses.
The Bad Business Presentation Curse
As it stands now, executives such as Mr. Kent exert an incredibly insidious influence in our schools and in the corporate world generally.
Let’s call it the “hem-of-garment” effect.
Those of us who aspire to scale the corporate heights imitate what we believe to be winning behaviors. We want to touch the hem of the garment, so-to-speak, of those whom we wish to emulate.
Because our heroes are so successful, their “style” of speaking is mimicked by thousands of young people who believe that, well, this must be how it’s done: “He is successful, therefore I should deliver my own presentations this way.”
You see examples of this at your own B-School, as in when a VP from a local insurance company shows up unprepared, and reads from barely relevant slides.
He then takes your questions in chaotic and perhaps haughty form.
Who could blame you if you believe that this is how it should be done? The bad business presentation is, after all, the unfortunate standard.
But this abysmal level of corporate business presenting offers you an opportunity . . .
You need only become an above-average speaker to be considered an especially powerful presenter.
A presenter far more powerful than Mr. Muhtar Kent or any of 500 other CEOs.