09 Jul

Adjusting your delivery to your occasion and/or audience.

The victory and concession speeches made respectively by Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak on Friday were somewhat remarkable when compared to the rest of the UK General Election campaign. 

The accusations and personal animosity that had almost physically crackled between the two over the preceding six weeks of friction was notably absent, and instead the tone of both men’s oration changed to include professional and serious reflections on the past, present, and future.  

Aside from the obvious wins for the UK democratic process (compare and contrast Rishi Sunak’s concession speech with the petulant tone taken by Donald Trump after losing the last US Presidential election) these speeches also represent an important learning point for business presenters. For the tone of your presentation needs to always reflect the audience in front of you and/or any notable events that may be shaping their collective emotions and feelings.  

A failure to consider these points can be disastrous. For instance: 

  • Injecting humour when the audience are shocked or saddened requires great skill, and for most presenters should perhaps be entirely avoided.
  • Likewise, triumphalism or overt bias can land badly, and needs to be toned-down to factual and informative comment.
  • And overt sales messaging when the audience are expecting information and informed comment nearly always spark a negative reaction.

Any or all the above are common mistakes made in business presentations which so often result in a message not landing well, being perceived as unprofessional, or (worse) even rather callous.

It therefore follows that business presenters should always seek to read the room (be that physical or virtual) before you start to speak.  Small adjustments to your delivery can make a huge and positive difference to how you – and/or your product – might be perceived by the audience.

Steve Herbert Communications & Presentation Skills Coach + Employee Benefits, Wellbeing, and Reward Expert

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