Macleod represents and typifies my market. I meet his peers all the time. Macleod is a bright, very knowledgeable, articulate authority on his subject. Macleod can be regarded as the personified benchmark of what the British business world considers ‘a good speaker’. Macleod is why I do what I do. Compared to what he could easily be Macleod is lamentable.
Am I too harsh? Consider. This speech is really important. It’s a serious alarm call, projecting all manner of frightening scenarios. You could be forgiven for not noticing, because you have to concentrate very hard to stay awake. If you want to know the degree to which this ‘good speaker’ is gripping his audience, listen to the coughing. He is boring them silly, yet they would deny it. To a man they would class him a good speaker. They know no better: the market has been lulled into assuming that this is as good as people can reasonably be expected to get.
Ye Gods! In four hours I could transform him beyond recognition, merely by tapping into and liberating his existing talent. Macleod has far more personality than we are seeing, and his audience could receive the benefit of it without his losing one jot of his dignity or authority.
Let’s run through a few specifics…
- He partially deprecates his subject matter. In normal life this may come across as seemly modesty, but here it’s a mistake.
- He’s reading. I would tear that paper away from him. He doesn’t need it. If the audience is receiving hard copy of the slides, do they get the script also? If so he needs his script even less. Why duplicate what they are anyway going to read? Will they bother to read it, if they stayed awake enough to hear him say it? Much better to shoot from the hip an admitted slightly different version (made deliberately provocative with strategic though harmless omissions). Then they’ll read it!
- He’s reading. I would tear that paper away from him. The words are coming off the page, in through his eyes, and out through his mouth with far less cerebral processing en route than if he were shooting from the hip. He reads more expressively than most, but not as expressively as he’d say it spontaneously.
- He’s reading. I would tear that paper away from him. If his eyes really fixed and engaged that audience, the coughing would diminish.
- He’s reading. I would tear that paper away from him. Forced to learn how to structure material in a way that made mind-mapping easy, he would simultaneously make the material more digestible and memorable for the audience. And he’d sound – and be – spontaneous. The coughing would disappear.
The frustrating thing is that I suspect he has received some training. He does a few key things right, like laying out his stall at the beginning, but he needs to learn how to construct his material much better than that. There are individual sentences in there that should grab every audience member by the throat, but instead just get swept away in the coughing. He needs to learn how to do away with paper, He needs to be shown how much better he can easily be. He needs me.
If he gets to read this, he might feel aggrieved at being thus singled out for slating when he is actually better than many. If any trainee of mine, reading this, happens to know him: give him my number. I’ll offer him an opportunity to be very glad he came up here on this blog today…