December 6, 2011

A public speaking lesson from NORAD

Have you heard of NORAD? North American Aerospace Defense Command "is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.

Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States. The renewal of the NORAD Agreement in May 2006 added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways."

Sounds pretty serious, huh? NORAD defends the airspace of North America, monitoring "a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace or maritime threat."

Guess what else NORAD monitors: Santa Claus.

Starting December 1st each year, the military organization's NORAD Tracks Santa site goes live, counting down the days until Christmas Eve, and then showing Santa's flight around the world. Santa trackers can speak to a live operator to inquire about Santa’s whereabouts, can watch video and play games on the site, and can even use apps on their smart phones to make sure they don't miss a moment of Santa's journey.

Now, let me ask you this: If an organization as "important" and "serious" as NORAD can put up a Santa tracking website, can't you have a little fun in your presentations? If putting up a Santa tracking site doesn't ruin NORAD's reputation or credibility, how can having some fun with an audience ruin yours?

Stop taking yourself so seriously. Lighten up. Be a breath of fresh air for your audience, rather than a rigid, humorless, windbag presenter who promotes his own superiority and importance at the expense of his audience's enjoyment and engagement.

NORAD makes me smile. Now go make your audience smile!

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