It started out with a client asking me to attend his event to give him full, honest feedback on his presentation structure and the style of his delivery.
The event took place in a fancy restaurant, in the financial capital of the country where I live. My client, a member of a banking association, was presenting as to his industry peers. The aim was to present a revolutionary financial and quantitative model he has been studying thoroughly.
The audience settled in a semi-circle, leaving a large, open space for my client to present and the president of the association introduced him. That’s when I started writing down furiously everything I liked and everything that could be improved.
My client starts talking, introduces himself and why he is the expert on the subject dealt with today. Pascal (not my client’s name of course, but that will do for this publication) goes through a chronological description of his curriculum-the traditional/classical way for the audience to get to know you.
Everything is fine until I have my first cringe. Pascal starts to talk about how he failed his financial masters, and then the difficulty he faced finding his first job in asset management, and then his first redundancy, then his second and ….hmmm, let me think! NO – Pascal! NO.
I applaud and respect the will for honesty, especially in the financial industry, but in this circumstance, it does not help. Why?
Challenges faced must be transformed into opportunities
Dead ends must mutate into new interests
Incompatibilities with management style must be modified in attraction to new business venture
Mandatory relocation must be changed into great thirsts for international adventure
Every moment in a speech is important but the first and last do carry more weight in how you will be remembered. Don’t get me wrong, we all have our business and career ups and downs, but when presenting to peers, colleagues, prospects, business partners, clients, every presentation is a representation.
When things have been a bit bumpy, adapt the way you present yourself unless you want to make a point and share the lessons you learned by facing and overcoming a challenge.
When you present your professional past, adapt your language and use positive sentences. It will help you to:
Be more confident
Build up stronger credibility
Keep the audience interested
Be seen as a role model/ a mentor
Maintain or gain a positive reputation
Also, in this business context, nobody wants to hear about failures. This is freaking out the audience who is coming to attend your talk after a long working day. Make them dream!
Every presentation is a representation. For your next professional speech delivery, amend accordingly.