February 1, 2010

Does your presentation taste as good as it looks?

Download audio here.

Thank you to fellow speaker and trainer Bert Decker for today's food and public speaking analogy.

Last night on Twitter, Bert mentioned making Coq au Vin for the first time and forgetting to ask the butcher to cut up the whole chicken required for the recipe. Last I heard, Bert said the cutting was sloppy but the smells of the meal cooking were great.

This reminded me of a previous post I wrote about two speakers at the same event, one polished, professional and slightly canned, the other disheveled and passionate. The one I connected with was the one who gave more than 100% to the audience, even though her appearance was less than perfect.

How much energy do you put into the external appearance, glitter and gloss of your presentation vs. the preparation, heart and soul of your presentation?

In Bert's case, the chicken would taste the same either way, though slightly less attractive than if the chicken had been cut up professionally.

I can't say the same for your presentation.

If all you focus on is the external, that is, your movement, gestures, voice, clothing and slides, your presentation will be nothing but an empty shell.

However, take the time to prepare your purpose and your objective, determine your audience needs and wants, dig deep into your emotional well and find what drives you and what excites you about this topic... and even if your outer appearance is not perfect, your audience will see and feel your authenticity and passion. They won't be able to help themselves being drawn into your world. They won't be able to help themselves wanting more.

There's great satisfaction in putting a beautifully plated meal on the table. Just make sure it tastes good, too.

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10 comments. Please add yours! :

Alan said...


True enough, but I've met way too many people -- a lot of them entrepreneurs -- who believe their passion will carry them. When they a) fail to show their passion (very common) and b) fail to make it about the listener, then their passion is chalked up to "yeah, he's crazy about it. So what?"

The way it's written, it sounds like polished professional is the antithesis of passion. For my money, I'll take both.


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Alan, I agree it's best to have both; if you read again where I wrote "polished and professional," I also wrote "canned." Too many speakers think they can deliver the same *words* in a rote fashion day after day to different audiences without making any effort to connect, humanize or engage. That's where passion and enthusiasm win out.

Susan Mazza said...

Your point about being aware of the trap of the well polished but "canned" presentation is an important one.

When I am going to give the same talk more than once I find if I don't connect with who I am going to deliver it to this time and get in their world a bit, I can't connect with my passion or them at all. My content may get more polished, but my delivery always suffers if I don't take the time to make it personal for me and for them.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Susan. I can see how it would be easier for someone to keep giving the same presentation and get into a comfort zone, but as you say, delivery suffers if you don't make it personal and get in their world beforehand.

Unknown said...

Polished professionalism and passion are a fabulous combination! You cannot beat the combination. I sometimes wonder why people are speaking about things they don't believe in or aren't passionate about.

It's similar to authenticity- everyone can tell when you are not authentic.

Thanks for the article!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Jen, sometimes people don't have much of a choice; for example, if they're asked to speak about or report on something at work. I completely understand. But... it's still possible to find the kernel of interest in any presentation. After all, you still have to get the buy-in or support or motivation of your colleagues, so it behooves the speaker to make that effort. But it's not always easy!

Jessica Pyne said...

While it's important for the presenter to be passionate about his subject, I believe that it's just as important to convey that enthusiasm to the audience. A really good speech or presentation should leave the audience interested in the topic and returning to think about it afterwards. An enthusiastic presenter who fails to pass this on to his audience has failed - would you agree? Perhaps personal passion is just the step towards audience passion.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Yes, of course, Jessica. If a speaker is passionate but unable to convey that passion, then her delivery will be the same as that of someone who has no passion at all! A speaker must find what interests her and excites her about the topic and convey that to the audience.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this great advice!
I had my own comprehensive shot at tackling public speaking anxiety, please have a look! Beating the fear of public speaking

Thank you, Nick

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, Nick. You sent me this link before.

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