Since my work granted all of us unlimited access to Lynda.com, I’ve been excited to watch “Effective Public Speaking,” a one-hour training under the “Presentations” section of the website. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.
The content of the training is the best part. However, I would suggest reading this material in Nancy Duarte’s Resonate. The slides are still the standard death-by-bulletpoint and don’t embody the qualities of well-designed slides. Also, unfortunately, the presenter’s delivery is the worst “leg” of the presentation stool. It’s sterile and robotic. She reads from a teleprompter and uses hand gestures as if she were in an infomercial. Using a presentation guru such as Garr Reynolds or Nancy Duarte would have been perfect for this training, as 21st century presenters know that a speech must involve natural, authentic delivery.
The training was broken up into five sections. These included preparation; warming up (isn’t that preparation?); opening; delivering; and closing. I was sad that there wasn’t a more Presentation Zen-like approach since this training was created in mid-2012. I would have liked to see sections specifically dedicated to the three legs of the presentation stool: 1) content, 2) delivery, and 3) slide design. This helps others understand the big picture: what it takes to create a successful presentation.
The speaker started by saying she wasn’t going to focus on presentation anxiety. I think this is problematic because we have to overcome our lizard brains in order to even think about the preparation stage of a presentation.
The “Preparing Your Speech” first section of the training was filled with great information on preparation in areas such as audience analysis; brainstorming; developing credibility; and rehearsing. This section did contain good information, but, again, I’d more highly recommend Nancy Duarte’s Resonate. The book does a significantly better job explaining these concepts in a more interesting way.
I also enjoyed the content and the three downloadable assets provided by Lynda.com. These included an audience persona sheet; a warm-up checklist; and a storyboard template.
While the slides were ineffective, the biggest drawback of this training is the presenter’s delivery. An audience is going to become easily bored and disinterested by this one-hour lecture because the presenter’s delivery is devoid of all humanity. This is problematic for a beginning presenter who might think he has to deliver a speech in the same way. While the delivery may be technically perfect (no “ums” and “ahs”), it lacks authenticity. Once we learn the goal of speech delivery, we can convey our natural selves to others. Delivery isn’t about perfection. Audiences like vulnerability… They want their presenters to be real and human. I would have liked to see a presenter who understands delivery lead this training, and this could make all of the difference in the world to Lynda.com users.
As opposed to watching this training, I’d recommend that you read Resonate by Nancy Duarte to help you develop your presentation content; The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds to help you develop your delivery; and Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte and/or Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds to help you improve your slides.
Have you been disappointed by a public speaking and presentation training? What can we do to push people to transition from 1980s sterile presenting using clip art and a podium to the art and science of 21st century presenting?