Presentation Nightmare Lessons from Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

man looking scared under bed sheet

It recently occurred to me that many of the presentation nightmares professionals experience are akin to, ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.’

Despite not having a culinary bone in my body, I’ve recently taken a liking to Chef Ramsay. Perhaps, it’s because we have something in common.

I’d like to think that I don’t have the same fiery temper, bluntness and persistent use of profanity but I do also have a passion.

Gordon Ramsay works hard to transform struggling restaurants and kitchen nightmares.

I’ve made it my mission to help struggling professionals transform their presentation nightmares.

Here are 10 important nightmare lessons we can learn from Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

  1. Don’t settle for mediocrity

If you’ve watched Kitchen Nightmares, you’ll have noticed that many of the restaurant owners are in crisis because they have accepted mediocrity. It’s not just a disaster in the kitchen, it’s a presentation nightmare too.

Mediocre presenting has many facets:

– Doing what you’ve always done or following others

– Focusing exclusively on informing an audience rather than connecting with them

– A lack of passion and creativity

Don’t focus on mediocrity, focus on excellence.

You can learn much more about mediocre presenting in, ‘The New World of Public Speaking & Presenting‘.

  1. Keep it fresh not frozen

This morning I watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where the business owner insisted she detested the  idea of being served frozen food. Despite that, most of the food served to her customers wasn’t fresh; it was frozen.

Most people don’t expect to be served food cooked from frozen when dining out.

It’s a presentation nightmare when the content is frozen too.

In this context frozen content contains:

– Irrelevant data

– Long lists of bullet points

– Slides fraught with text

– Presenters reading slides

– Clichés, jargon and assumptions

Keep your content and approach fresh and compelling

  1. The buck stops with you

Once of the most common challenges Chef Ramsay faces on his travels, is business owners who don’t take responsibility.

They blame

– The Chef for being lazy

– Customers for not appreciating their food

– The market

It’s a presentation nightmare when the presenter blames their poor presentation on:

– The marketing or sales department

– Their audience for not understanding

– A lack of time to prepare

– Their boss or organizations culture

The buck stops with you. Take responsibility for everything

  1. Value your audience

In a restaurant it’s the owners responsibility to value, respect and serve their customers.

It’s a presentation nightmare when the speaker doesn’t apply the same principles to their audience.

To value your audience you have to do whatever it takes to:

– Know as much you can about them

– Understand who they are and how you can help them

– Be clear on what their challenges, objectives, fears and aspirations are

You’ll find some helpful advice in a previous article I wrote, ‘9 Ways to RESPECT your Audience’.

  1. Lead by example

When a business owner doesn’t lead by example they create a kitchen nightmare.

It’s a presentation nightmare when the speaker doesn’t lead by example too.

To lead by example when presenting we need to:

– Give our audience our full commitment, passion and energy

– Open up to them

– Involve and interact with them

– Craft content which is rich, real and relevant

– Focus on connecting emotionally as well as intellectually

  1. Get feedback

Can you imagine running a successful restaurant without ever asking your customers how they feel about your:

– Menu

– Service

– Food

– Environment

– Staff

If you want to avoid your own presentation nightmare, make it your business to actively seek feedback from your audience.

Ask your audience

– What worked and didn’t work so well from both a content and delivery perspective

– How you made them feel

– What they remember

– What your message was

– How your presentation has served them

  1. Keep it simple

In many of Chef Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, another huge issue he contends with is the size of the menu.

It’s often so lengthy it compromises the quality of the:

– Brand

– Food

– Customer service

– Dining experience

Gordon often advocates serving a small menu, with locally sourced produce that is aligned to the restaurants identity.

To avoid a presentation nightmare keep your presentation simple

– Have a clear message and focus on it

– Get straight to the point and stick to it

– If you’re using visuals, have one idea per slide; no more

– If your content doesn’t support your message get rid of it.

– Make sure that everything you share is totally relevant

– Ditch the jargon and use simple language

  1. Play to your strengths

Don’t try to be all things to all people.

Focus on and play to your strengths.

Avoid a presentation nightmare by developing a high level of self-awareness of  your presentation style. There are many different types of styles of presenting and this quiz will help you to attain a level of understanding as to just what your personal style and preference is. With that insight and clarity you can begin to understand the impact you are likely to have on your audience and learn skills to adapt and modify your style where needed whilst retaining your authenticity.

  1. There is always room for improvement

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley

Whether you are in the kitchen or conference room, the moment you think you know everything you need to know, is the moment the nightmare begins.

Just because you have been presenting for a decade or two doesn’t, mean you can’t improve.

“Simply have a mind that is open to everything but attached to nothing.” Wayne W. Dyer

  1. Sample your own cooking

I have to smile when I hear Gordon Ramsay ask restaurant owners if they have tasted their own recipes and they answer ‘no’. It’s often the pathway to a kitchen nightmare.

If you have never listened to or watched yourself presenting, you may be walking into a presentation nightmare too.

How can you expect your audience to take you seriously and connect with you if you have no idea what you look or sound like.

Your audience will pay attention to what you say and how you say it verbally and non-verbally.

Sample your own presentation

Use your smartphone to record yourself presenting.

Play it back to yourself with an open mind. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

Notice how you sound

Make a list of any filler words you use,’ um, er, and obviously.

Do you speak too fast or too slow

Are there any pauses

Is there any vocal variety or contrast

If you want your audience to feel excited, do you sound it yourself

Notice how you look

Do you make good eye contact

How do you gesture

What are your hands doing

How do you move

What does your face and body language tell your audience.

I can’t help you in the kitchen I’m afraid but there’s a great deal we can offer if you’d like to take your public speaking and presentation skills to another level.

If you need help with a presentation nightmare:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

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