Public Speaking – not as easy (or as hard) as it looks

Friday, January 10th, 2014 by Simon Morton

There’s not much that can get the internet buzzing quite like someone else’s embarrassment and if that person also happens to be in the public eye, then all the better.

This week has seen Michael Bay (Producer/Director of Transformers, Pearl Harbour, Armageddon et al) in for a real battering over his recent appearance at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Michael has, in his usual, style been brutally honest about the whole thing and ended his explanation with a statement that I’m sure rings true with a lot of people who find themselves in front of an audience “I guess live shows aren’t my thing”.

Fortunately for Bay, his future as a film director is unlikely to be affected but we’re pretty sure that there are a lot of presenters out there who genuinely feel that their future might.

We’ve blogged about the art of public speaking frequently, from seeking the wisdom of Winston Churchill to sharing some professional tips from a vocal communication expert. And when it comes to the risks involved in giving a great presentation we’ve both seen and experienced what can happen when tech gremlins strike.

A great presentation needs two things, great content and an engaging presenter. The more observant will notice that I avoided saying ‘great presenter’ and there’s a reason for this. What an audience wants from a presenter is honesty and knowledge.

It’s easy for those of us sitting behind keyboards to pontificate on how he could have handled it better, but I can’t help feeling that something along the lines of “Cut. Rewind the teleprompter. Michael Bay introduces the awesome Samsung curved TV – take two” might well have showed the sort of honesty that audiences warm to. And practising without the teleprompter could well have helped him ace the knowledge aspect too.

Great presenting is not about getting everything perfectly right, it’s about making a connection and the best way of doing that is by being yourself.

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