How never to present in public

After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

People won’t throw knives at you or scratch your car; they are unlikely to storm out and nobody has ever actually died from forgetting their words. The reality is, whoever you are most people want to see you do well; nobody wants to see you squirm and suffer in the pain of humiliation.

Many presenters (yours truly included) have faced the challenge and embarrassment of things not going quite as planned, including a momentary lapse of memory or even judgment, technology failing or props not working; it’s called being human.

Most audiences will tell you they actually like human presenters.

The key is preparation, preparation and more preparation combined with a genuine interest in your topic, a passionate desire to make a difference to your audience sprinkled with a little humility and grace to handle whatever comes your way.

In January 2014 at Samsung’s press conference in Las Vegas for the brilliant director of ‘Transformers’ Michael Bay things don’t quite go his way. Unfortunately for him the autocue failed right at the start of his talk which appeared to throw him into a tailspin the result of which was that he walked away abandoning his audience. As you can see he did apologize twice and later made the following statement:

“Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES – I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP’s intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down – then I walked off. I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”

That was an unfortunate day for Michel Bay but he’s not the first and probably won’t be the last of us to face such a regrettable day on the speaking platform.

What else can you do to better position you for such an untoward moment you may face when speaking?

Well, I believe that the prerequisite to any speech or presentation is a having a crystal clear message and purpose the clarity of which will allow everything you say to revolve around. If you know your topic and have a clear message and purpose then if that dreaded moment ever arrives where the autocue fails, the projector explodes or you leave your script in the taxi you will always have something of value to say.

Granted, it may be a little shorter and perhaps less polished, but you can guarantee it will be more authentic and who knows it may even serve you better.


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