With South By Southwest, the annuals music, film and interactive expo on everyone's minds, I thought it would be timely to discuss presentation skills. In the world of public speaking, there are two camps:
The first camp believes that you should prepare for every presentation diligently, creating a cohesive outline with supporting examples and data for each major point. Just because an individual doesn’t use Powerpoint slides doesn’t mean he’s not a member of this camp. Some speakers rehearse for weeks so that they can appear natural and “off the cuff.”
Which leads us to the other camp. This camp believes that remarks should be extemporaneous, and that a talk that sounds more like a conversation will be more
relatable to the audience. Members of this camp also tend to feel that they know their subject matter so well that they don’t really need to use notes or memorize a speech. As long as they regale the audience with humor and anecdotes, they will be received well.
I’m a member of the first camp. When I do a talk, I use a few slides for visual emphasis, and presentation notes to make sure I cover my main points. I don’t go crazy rehearsing, but I do practice my introduction about ten times prior to a presentation because this is the part that is most customized and most critical to establishing rapport.
Sometimes, I wish I could be one of those speakers who is freeform and theatrical, but I have also seen this approach go horribly wrong. Some members of the second camp are so busy trying to wow the audience that their talks have no rhyme or reason, their remarks don’t offer much in the way of useful content, or they repeat or contradict themselves. Sometimes, I think it comes down to education versus entertainment. When it comes to the talks you deliver as a leader, what method do you prefer, and do you think there is a happy medium?