The Good, the Bad and the Show-Biz Ugly

Friday, October 8th, 2010 1 comments

david-cameron-ted-talkI often ask executives to give examples of who they think are really slick, professional and engaging presenters, and why. Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins and Al Gore are often cited, as are some leading politicians. No matter whether a presentation is by a CEO, a President, or sales professional, we all agree that clear, concise and memorable communication skills are critical for their success; in business, as well as in politics. Here in the UK, we have been subjected to a plethora of political presentations these past few months, yet very few of them that I have seen have been visual presentations. But I did see one that was delivered as a visual communication and was delighted to see some the techniques that I teach on my courses being used by a politician. It was refreshing to see them, despite there being a few glitches. It was also refreshing to see a politician delivering a presentation that was not party biased.

The presentation is given by Prime Minister David Cameron; The next age of government:

The good news is that the PM’s presentation was good, and in some parts, really good, but there were a few bad things that I saw that are so typical of mainstream presentations. So, with the Ennio Morricone theme music playing in my head, I noted the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, and, as the PM so accurately described it, the ‘show-biz ugly’!

The good

What is really good about his presentation is that it has a defined structure. And it aligns to the m62 visualcommunications structure that I teach and coach my clients to use with our presentations. It has a very engaging introduction. The PM uses humour well, and engages the audience immediately with a clear purpose, “The world has run out of money”, and this is supported by a stunning visual. At around 3 minutes into the presentation, he gives you a clear benefit, “… the really simple argument that I want to make…how to achieve a big increase in…without having to spend a whole lot more money.” He then shows you how this benefit can be delivered upon, and has supporting evidence based studies – proof – from research into behavioural economics that can “transform behaviour”. This has relevance to my coaching because I change the way that executives present, and that requires a change in behaviour that transforms the way to present. The Prime Minister then closes the presentation within 15 minutes, and within the audience’s attention span. He is also has a very good presentation style, clear, concise, easy to listen to and understand, and uses good segues.

The Bad

There is a slide on which he reads out loud the words when they appear, but he corrected himself and then used the words within context. But this is one of the typically bad mistakes that presenters do more often than not, articulating the words as they appear. It just doesn’t help the audience. Putting the text into context is much more memorable. The other typically bad mistake is the use of poor graphics, or clip art on slides and, sadly, there is one of his support staff who has an unhealthy appetite for this. Along with over indulgence in the use of colour for text! To me it looks as though more than one slide designer was used to create the presentation, and another one who applied the principal of our golden rule; slides should not make sense on their own.

Not the ugly, but the beauty

There were 2 very good examples of this at 5 minutes, and 6 minutes into the presentation. Even the PM recognized the difference, as he says, “This slide is going to morph beautifully”. And it does a much better job for him, and more importantly, for the audience.

Did the ‘beauty’ help to make the presentation more engaging and memorable? It most certainly did. Did the ‘bad’ compromise the PM’, probably. Maybe it was practice for the politics of compromise in a coalition government! So, my advice for the PM is, next time, just use a designer who knows how to morph beautifully.

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1 Comment to The Good, the Bad and the Show-Biz Ugly

  1. #1


    4:31 pm, October 8th, 2010

    Another very good article Chaz. Thank you.