Sometimes I cannot believe the things that happen right in front of me. I have been traveling around the country giving talks to various healthcare organizations. Either before or after I've spoken, I like to hear other speakers talk about their perspectives on what is happening in healthcare. Most of the time I learn something, but on other occasions I'm so puzzled by the speaker's style that I find myself wondering if they understand the basics of giving a speech.
Recently, I was invited to give a talk on the West Coast. There were about 100 people in the audience, and they were all top healthcare executives. I got to the meeting early just to make sure everything was in order.
The speaker was an executive of a major company, and the subject he had chosen was timely. As he began, we were all paying close attention, especially me because I didn't know much about the subject and wanted to learn more. Off he went with his PowerPoint presentation. The first couple of minutes went fine, but then out of the blue he pulled out his pager and looked at it. At first, I thought it was some sort of prearranged gag. But the speaker went on to interrupt his talk about 10 or 12 times by looking at his pager. The talk was a disaster, and everyone in the audience was insulted, as well they should have been. I'll never know where the fellow learned to give a speech, but he was sorely missing the basics.
Any executive worth his or her salt should be able to give an intelligent talk to a group of people whether they are clients, colleagues or the local Rotary Club. But too many individuals in leadership positions are too lazy to perfect their speaking styles. Or they think they are too busy to learn the rudiments of effective speaking. Or they think speaking isn't important.
But learning to speak properly is essential to any executive who hopes to be able to communicate to outside audiences, colleagues or a board. So here are a couple of hints on what to do when asked to give a presentation or speech.
Brevity is golden,
Charles S. Lauer