Most people would generally agree that a great deal — probably most — of the presentations we have to sit through in the business world are awful. They are all too often passionless, boring, and dense with unreadable PowerPoint slides.
And that sorry state of affairs raises the question: if that’s the norm, why should things be any better? Maybe boring is OK. Why is good public speaking important to the business world?
I believe that good public speaking is important for several reasons.
Bad presentations are an opportunity lost.
It’s expensive and time-consuming to gather groups of employees, or shareholders, or customers, or the general public together. You should have a good reason for doing so. And you should make the most of the time spent together. Especially in this virtual age, gathering a group of people is an enormous opportunity to move them, to inspire them, to re-excite them about your company, your products, or your mission.
Bad presentations can hurt your organization.
If a leader of an organization gives a bad speech, some portion of the audience will conclude one of the following things:
The company has lackluster leadership and therefore won’t do well in the future
The organization is wasting my time; I should look elsewhere for another job
This company is an embarrassment and it doesn’t deserve my best efforts.
You don’t want employees concluding these kinds of damaging things. You want them concluding the opposite of these notions, in fact. Make your presentations good.
Good presentations can turn around a bad situation.
Because of the public nature of a speech, it’s a great opportunity to right a wrong done to employees, or correct a misapprehension, or change a perception. Things said from the stage to an assembled majority of an organization have the force of corporate legislation. Words uttered by a chief executive in public can heal. Employees will act on what is proclaimed, and an organization headed in the wrong direction can be righted.
Good public speaking can create enormous opportunities for innovation and healthy competition amongst employees.
A good public speech can launch a decade-long quest for the moon, or inspire people to compete for a prize for the best new product, or find new ways to save money and make processes more efficient. A good public speech is a great way to throw down the gauntlet to the assembled people to find new solutions to difficult problems.
A good presentation can change the world.