“I am not really prepared for this presentation tonight” the speaker stated as he opened his talk. “I have not been feeling well so did not have time to prepare. I did not want to let you down, so I came anyway.”
As a member of the audience, what is going through your head at this point in the talk?
- Great, I busted my butt to get here only to get a second rate presentation
- On top of being bored, I will probably get sick from his germs
- Maybe I can sneak out the back unnoticed and get something important done
- All of the above
The speaker has barely started his talk yet his credibility is already lower than the floor.
There are many reasons for not being prepared for your talk but no real excuses. You knew you would be expected to speak and probably procrastinated on the preparation. Your audience has sacrificed to come hear you and deserve your best. If you can not deliver, consider alternatives that may save your professional credibility.
“I am under the weather today and will not be able to deliver the seminar I promised you. I am very disappointed and apologize for the inconvenience, but want to be at my best for you and do not want to risk sharing my illness with you. Let’s reschedule for next week.”
Which feelings do you think you will experience after reading the above email:
- Disappointment yet happy to have an extra 2 hours in your day
- Appreciative of the courtesy of the speaker
- Excitement for the high quality presentation you will get when she recovers
- All of the above
The first speaker demonstrated lack of respect for the audience – they were not important enough to him to adequately prepare. His talk should have been planned in advance so that last minute “stresses” would not have an impact.
The audience will judge your professional abilities based, in part, on how well you present. A second-rate performance indicates you are a second-rate professional. A first rate delivery indicates you take time to plan and prepare in all aspects of your life and work.
Your credibility is on the line every time you present. A single bad presentation will not destroy your career and it won’t do anything to enhance it. Presenting is one of the best ways to build your business, gain support for your project, and influence others. The audience is giving you the most important item they have, their time. Honor that by delivering your best to them.
© 2009 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words.
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