PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

In a March 28 post to his “Manner of Speaking” blog, John Zimmer does an excellent job of analyzing the video of a talk delivered by lawyer and author, Philip Howard.  Zimmer, a lawyer himself, dissects Howard’s message, showing step-by-step how Howard crafted a persuasive argument.

To Zimmer’s analysis, I would like to add an observation.  Howard’s talk is a good example of how a strong message can make up for shortcomings in delivery.  Howard’s delivery is not dynamic.  As Zimmer points out, he doesn’t move around despite a generous stage, and he seems overly dependent on his notes.  I would add that he could benefit from greater vocal animation.

Yet, he receives a standing ovation that appears to surprise him.

It didn’t surprise me because his message was so strong.  It had what speaking guru William Safire would have called “high purpose.”  Also, together with well-crafted design, it delivered that rare value called revelation.  Legions of speakers promise it; few deliver.

I’m not suggesting delivery is unimportant.  Mr. Zimmer’s talk would have been even better with a polished delivery.  What I do want to emphasize, however, is what an exceptional message can accomplish.

Contrary to what many would say, strong delivery does not save a weak message.  But a strong message can compensate for less-than-dynamic delivery.

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