The Old Coot isn’t a fan of modern speech making

The two worst inventions of the 20th century were the teleprompter and the power point computer program. People that don’t really know what they are talking about use the teleprompter most often. It makes them appear knowledgeable, articulate, and smarter than the rest of us. 

They stare at a point just above the camera, or over the heads of an audience. Every so often they stumble over a sentence in the prompter, not sure what it means, and have a hard time getting back on track. It proves they don’t know the subject matter, or haven’t taken the time to rehearse. 

The presentation is fluff! Proof of that becomes evident when they open the floor to questions. Typical responses include, “I can’t get into that now.” – “That violates the privacy laws.” – “That’s protected by the secrecy regulations.” And when it gets a little too sticky, you get, “That’s all we have time for today.” 

Politicians and news anchors are guilty of using Teleprompters and not knowing what they are talking about, but corporate executives do it as well. What you often get is a committee-crafted speech that’s been sanitized by a legal team and polished up by a public relations crew. Once in a blue moon you get surprised and find out the speaker really does know the ins and outs of the subject matter.

Power point presentations are another animal altogether. Presenters DO know what they are talking about. IN DETAIL! TOO MUCH DETAIL!

My issue with these speeches comes when the screen is loaded with a plethora of bullet points, followed by lines of text that take me less than a minute to read through. I’m ready for the next page, but the speaker hasn’t even covered the first one or two points. 

Off I go into dreamland. These speeches get pretty long because it’s easy to load tons of info into a power point computer program. The principle of “Less is More” is disregarded. So is the “KISS” principle (Keep It Simple Stupid!). 

Most of us are good listeners, for five or 10 minutes, and then we start to lose our focus. By 15 minutes the whole audience is off gathering wool. We ask questions at the end of the talk, often information that has been thoroughly covered when we were away in dreamland, making us look stupid; but whose fault is that?  

Speakers that talk from the cuff, from their heads and hearts and keep it simple, are the successful communicators. If you avoid the temptation to use a teleprompter or an overloaded power point program you’ll do fine when it’s your turn at the podium. Just remember KISS.

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