De vier valkuilen die je moet vermijden als je spreekt in het openbaar

Er zijn manieren om je te presenteren die je te allen tijden moet vermijden. Chris Anderson, grote baas van de TED Talks, heeft er vier op een rijtje gezet.

Boyan Slat tijdens TEDx Delft in 2012 Screenshot YouTube-video van TEDx Delft 2012

Er zijn manieren om je te presenteren die je te allen tijde moet vermijden. Chris Anderson, grote baas van de TED Talks, heeft er vier op een rijtje gezet.

Are you a rambler, a bore, or a wanna-be motivational speaker who’s all style and no substance? These are some of the presentation styles that TED Talks president Chris Anderson believes could ruin your reputation as a speaker.

In his new book, “TED Talks,” Anderson says that the following four styles are to be avoided on a TED stage at all costs. Based on my experience as a communication coach, I would go one step further — these styles should be avoided in all types of business presentations.

1. The sales pitch

“The most effective salespeople put themselves into their listeners’ shoes and imagine how to best serve their needs,” writes Anderson. A difficult concept for many business presenters to accept is that the less they overtly ‘sell,’ the more likely they are to make a sale.

When I wrote a book on the Apple Store retail model, I asked a senior executive how Apple became the most profitable store in America. “Because we don’t sell stuff,” he said. “We enrich people’s lives. And when you enrich lives, magical things happen.”

Anderson is making the same point as the Apple executive. When delivering a presentation, “Build a reputation as a generous person, not as a tedious self-promoter.”

2. The ramble

Chris Anderson was mortified (and furious) when a speaker in his first TED conference delivered a rambling, unfocused presentation. Worse, he boasted about being unprepared. “As I was driving down here wondering what to say to you …” the speaker began.

People are giving you their time, says Anderson, so be respectful and deliver a presentation that you’ve practiced and has a clear direction.

I share Anderson’s frustration with meandering business presentations. Recently I sat in the front row of an annual sales meeting that began with the CEO admitting that he had put together the PowerPoint the night before.

The presentation reflected his lack of preparation. Salespeople in the audience even pointed out inaccurate numbers. “I’m sorry. I just slapped this thing together at the last minute,” the CEO responded as he rambled aimlessly from one slide to another. The audience was let down and the CEO had failed to inspire his team.

3. The org bore

“An organization is fascinating to those who work for it — and deeply boring to almost everyone else,” writes Anderson. Presentations that focus on the structure of your organization or “your fabulously photogenic team” will leave your audience snoozing.

Leaders love org charts, but audiences don’t. Instead, Anderson recommends that you focus on the nature of the work you’re doing and the results. Think about what’s in it for the audience.

Anderson offers a clear “before and after” example.

Before: Back in 2005, we set up a new department in this Dallas office building to investigate how we could slash our energy costs. I allocated our vice president to the task. Let me tell you more about him …

After: Back in 2005, we discovered something surprising. It turns out that it’s possible for an average office to slash its energy costs by 60% without any noticeable loss of productivity. Let me share with you how we did it …

The second example is delivered in a style that retains a listener’s interest and offers a key takeaway — something the audience will learn. The “before” style is “lazy” and “self-serving,” says Anderson.

4. All style, no substance

Inspiration is powerful. Audiences want to be moved by a speakers’ words and actions. Many speakers dream of having this effect on their audience, leaving the stage to a thunderous standing ovation and reading tweets about their uplifting presentation.

“And therein lies the trap,” warns Anderson. “They watch talks by inspirational speakers and seek to copy them … but in form only.”

Anderson tells the story of a speaker he invited to TED because the person was an expert on the theme of that year’s conference. Soon after the speaker began, Anderson felt that something was off.

“He was loving being on stage. Loving it a little too much. He’d keep pausing, hoping for audience applause or laughter, and when he got it, he’d stop and say “thank you,” milking it for more.” The promised substance of the talk never even arrived. “I felt sick to my stomach,” Anderson recalls.

Speakers become addicted to what Anderson calls “the drug of audience adoration.” Let’s face it. Some people get carried away with copying motivational speakers they’ve seen before. They copy their mannerisms and delivery.

The result is a presentation that appears canned and inauthentic. “Inspiration has to be earned,” says Anderson. “If you have dreams of being a rock-star public speaker, pumping up an audience as you stride to the stage and proclaim your brilliance, I beg you to reconsider,” says Anderson. “Inspiration can’t be performed. It’s an audience response to authenticity, courage, selfless work, and genuine wisdom.”

Anderson says that presentation literacy is “a superpower” that leaders, entrepreneurs and business professionals should master to stir excitement, share knowledge, and promote ideas. Half the battle to developing a compelling style is knowing what which styles to avoid.

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