We’ve all seen presentations and speeches of varying styles and standards. They range from highly engaging and funny, to long and dull, to slow and awkward.
But one particular presentation I recently witnessed managed to leave most of the audience feeling uncomfortable, awkward and even offended.
Here’s how the presenter started:
“So I haven’t prepared anything for today’s presentation. But as I was driving here in my car, thinking about what I could talk about, I decided that the topic of life insurance was really important. So I’m going to wing this a bit, but hopefully it all works out ok.”
I almost let out an audible groan as I immediately regretted my decision to show up to this meeting. And I’m certain I wasn’t the only one.
Why is this opening so terrible?
For me, the biggest and most obvious reason is it shows a complete lack of respect for your audience. Remember, in communication, each side is educating each other all the time.
By showing up and being attentive, the audience has effectively said: “We have taken time out of our day to be here and to listen to what you have to say.”
And in this case, the presenter effectively replied: “I don’t care that you’ve taken the time to be here, my time is more important than yours, so you can just deal with a botched-together talk. So there.”
In the meantime, here’s my tip for what to do if you (eep!) haven’t prepared for a presentation…
Don’t tell anyone.
Yep, just go ahead as normal. Most people won’t even notice, I promise.
And it’s better to stumble, mess up, but recover well, and still have the respect of your audience, than to buffer your mistakes with an excuse and offend everyone.
Of course, the best way to avoid this altogether is to actually get your sh*t together and learn what an impactful opening actually looks like. And then prepare your presentation. And practice. And get feedback. And practice again.
I cannot emphasise the importance of this enough. If you are serious about being more impactful and feeling more confident when presenting, you MUST go through these steps (and if you struggle to do it yourself, seek a coach, mentor or accountability partner. Or come to one of my Public Speaking Masterclasses :)).
Listen to the episode to hear the rest of the story and the 4 public speaking mistakes to avoid — and what to do instead — if you want to have a positive impact on your audience.