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Presenters -Don’t let your delivery kill your content!

As I’ve been writing about in recent posts, I attended the American Marketing Association’s Executive Insights Conference recently. The last two posts focused on what, in my opinion, was some of the most interesting content. Now, I feel compelled to say a few words about the delivery of that content.

In my first post about the conference, I mentioned the great variance in session quality. I want to clarify that comment a little. I think that the vast majority of the content was good. The problem with many of the sessions was that otherwise good content got buried by not so good delivery.

An unfortunate common theme to all the presentations was slide after slide filled with unreadable 12pt text and charts with so much clutter that it was hard to tell what the point was. Of the sessions I attended (about 2/3 of them), I’d say the norm was poorly designed slides and easily-correctable public speaking mistakes getting in the way of otherwise good content.

I don’t think for a second that any of the presenters are incapable. This overuse of bullets and text-heavy slides is the sad norm in business presentations. And public speaking? Well, they say that most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. So it’s no surprise that good speaking skills are the exception.

My humble suggestion for conference organizers – either require or offer to make available to prospective speakers some form of presentation training.

There is no shortage of public speaking trainers out there who could put together a few hours of material to be delivered by webinar. Think of it not as a cost, but an investment in a higher quality experience for attendees, which usually means repeat business at future conferences.

Future speakers, two suggestions for making your delivery to amplify your content:

  • Join Toastmasters. This is probably one of the best things you could do for your career, regardless of whether you ever speak at a conference.
  • Buy, read, and use the ideas in Presentation Zen. This book is an excellent introduction for the non-designer to using presentation slides that reinforce and amplify your message instead of detract from it.
  • Don’t want to read a book? Then read the blog of the same name

About the Author

Ed Erickson is the President of Erickson Research, a Chicago market research consulting firm. You can find Ed on LinkedIn and .

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