The distributor of a high performance car company contacted me about giving two of his staff some help with their Presentations.
Every month, the distributor held an event for his customers where they got inside tips about how to get the best out of their car and hints about upcoming releases.
These monthly gatherings were a big hit with the owners but even though they generated a lot of repeat business for the distributor, he wasn’t happy.
The high spot of each meeting was a session with the company’s two mechanics. These were so popular that the owners would fly in just to hear them and video equipment was hired so everyone could see and hear their sessions which consisted of Q&A plus some juicy anecdotes and ‘inside’ knowledge about the brand.
The distributor’s problem was that he felt his two celebrity mechanics weren’t presenting properly.
They weren’t making enough effort to put some energy into their presentations; they wouldn’t talk a lot so the audience had to keep asking them questions, they wouldn’t even smarten themselves up for the events!
When I met the mechanics, it was clear straightaway why the boss was angry but the audience were crazy about them. These guys where Rock Star mechanics. The only thing they cared anything about was how to tweak the computer under the hood to squeeze the last possible extra inch of performance out of whatever engine they were working on. They spent their days under the hood or in a pit. They even slept with those cars.
The boss was right, they didn’t say much and the prospect of them speeding up, trying out some intonation patterns or varying their spead just wasn’t going to happen although they did make some concessions on body language.
For the paying customers, these two guys’ authentic look and sound was part of what made this whole scene so appealing. Put them in suits, get them to smile and speak for 20 minutes? The spell would be broken.
That assignment taught me how sometimes, being true to our authentic selves is enough even if it means that all of the improving tools and techniques are ignored. For this to happen, the audience members will have buy to in to the persona of the Presenter because their knowledge, experience or maybe even just the way they engage is totally authentic. It’s who they are.
When this happens, the Presenter is free to engage on their own terms, questions, direction, topic, style the audience will be with them and respond.
It’s Freestyle Presentation and requires a very high level of knowledge and experience of the topic content because that makes us credible which is not possible if you’ve been handed a deck which arrived from head office and told that you’re the nominated Presenter.
That’s when we need to get out our own tools and techniques because if we’re not the subject expert we better be the delivery expert.