Five Dangerous Things
Learning by watching best practice is a method used by many. Learning through experiencing bad practice can also be effective, as long as you know what ‘bad practice’ looks like. The following presentation, ‘Five dangerous things your kids should do’, is by Gever Tulley, the founder of The Tinkering School. It is a tongue-in-cheek presentation on health and safety for children and is quite amusing. Unfortunately, his presentation delivery has five dangerously bad practices that presenters should never entertain: the lectern, the keyboard, his notes, a nervous ‘tick’ and, little to no rehearsal.
Give credit where it is due, Gever’s Tinkering School for Kids is fantastic and is a great vehicle for children to learn by tinkering with all sorts of things. And the photographs show that he loves what he does. His delivery would have been far more effective though, had he removed certain barriers and distractions. The biggest barrier of all was the lectern. It restricted his movement and prevented him from looking at half of the audience. It also became something to lean upon. It would have been so much better had he simply stood in front of it, or away from it. He is clearly good with his hands but was prevented from using them because he didn’t have a remote clicker. Using the keypad is a big mistake. When a presenter is rooted to the spot and juggling with notes, it sends a negative signal to the audience. They may be thinking, “Hmmmm, he doesn’t know his presentation and hasn’t rehearsed how to present it.” In a sales presentation, buyers will disengage and discount your offering.
Most presenters get nervous when presenting to a large audience, and rehearsing with feedback from observers is critical to help build greater confidence. Gever’s ‘tick’, or habit, is that he punches one hand into the palm of the other. And the resulting noise of it is a distraction. If you don’t know if you have a ‘tick’, then record a video of yourself presenting during a rehearsal and then watch and listen. The insight may prove to be a bit of a painful experience, but you can take immediate action to remedy any distracting mannerisms or repetition of words such as, ‘…you know’, ‘…OK’, or the dreaded, ‘er…’.
It usually takes three or four rehearsals to start to become confidently familiar with a new presentation. Presenters need to know their pitch well enough to be able to confidently deliver it without referring to notes. And they should certainly know when it has reached the last slide. Gever was almost caught by surprise; “I think that’s it…” was not the most positive note to finish on! To be fair to him, presenting is not his daily area of expertise; it is teaching kids how to learn by tinkering. And this leads to a frequent dilemma when you have to take a team to a sales pitch. Having a team attend is usually due to the differing areas of expertise that they bring to the table. The dilemma is often caused by thinking that each team member should present because they are in the room. When coaching clients on high value pitches, our recommendation is that yes, you do need the expertise in the room, and that you should have your best presenter deliver the pitch. The expert team members add more value in the Q&A, not by tinkering with the presentation delivery. Switching presenters is a distraction and breaks the audience’s attention. As with Gever’s pitch, it’s all about safety, and the simple things. So keep your presentation delivery safe by having your best presenter deliver it. It is as simple as that.
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