Who delivered a better presentation and why?
Recently I listened to a group of senior sales and marketing executives speak at a networking meeting. I also served as a judge at a speech contest for 12-year-olds. These two unrelated events prompted me to compare the presentation skills of each group.
1. Guess who was more engaging, attention grabbing and memorable?
2. Guess who was boring, uninspiring and easily forgettable?
The answer to question one is – the 12-year-olds. They were good.
The answer to question two is – the sales & marketing executives. They needed improvement.
Why did 12-year-olds deliver better presentations than senior sales and marketing executives?
The 12-year olds were competing in a speech contest. Many of their parents were there. Money and prestige were on the line, so they were well rehearsed.
Each presenter had a focused message. Their presentation was designed to deliver that message. Some were deep and serious while others were light and whimsical. In all cases the message was clear and easy to summarize.
The presenters spoke to the interests of the audience. The topics ranged from “the influence of the media”, “tourism in third world countries”, “the family van”, “peculiarities of the English language”, and “homework”. Yet each speaker related the topic to the listener.
Each speaker told colorful stories. That sparked images in my mind. Many said things that were funny and made me laugh. Some statements challenged my opinion. I was impressed by the carefully selected words and phrasing. All were simple and understandable.
Each speaker conveyed passion for their message. Each radiated that they were happy to be speaking to us.
These speakers were bold. They stood before the audience, looked people in the eye, delivered their statements and performed.
What did the Sales & Marketing Executives (SME) do poorly?
The SME seemed to be winging it – even though they were competing for attention, memorability and jobs. These SME were between jobs but seemed reluctant to compete and rehearse. Yet, clearly a lot of money was on the line. If their family had attended, would they have prepared better?
There was no focus or purpose evident. It almost seemed that they first were reciting their resume and then what they had for breakfast. Okay, I’m exaggerating the breakfast part – but it seemed as boring as porridge.
Each speaker seemed to be caught in their own self-centered world. Most didn’t relate to me or how they might fix my pain or that of my contacts. How could I help them if I didn’t know what they were offering? Stating “who you worked for” tells me little. They needed to speak of pain and solutions.
Facts, history and blah, blah, blah. Some related recent experiences but none that were worth remembering. Many used filler, self-sabotaging and jargon words. I was bored, confused and unimpressed.
I didn’t feel it. The emotion that I felt was remorse. “Why am I here?”
You might think that Sales & Marketing Executives would be anything but humble. You might think that Sales & Marketing Executives would grasp the difference between benefits and features. I thought so too.
All of the SME sat while speaking, crunched in their chairs some with an arm draped over the back of the chair. It was as if this was a family picnic instead of a possible career defining meeting. I found it curious that none of the men wore a tie. Did they want to be taken seriously? Or was this just a social club?
Presentation Skills Contest Results
What’s the score? 12-year olds -1. Sales & Marketing Executives - 0.
Some of you might think that I’m too hard on the Sales & Marketing Executives. That I’m expecting too much from them. Maybe – but I bet that I’m not the only one.
© George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives. He coaches business leaders to deliver deal-closing presentations. Find more free presentation tips at http://www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com
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Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.