Winging it–How to give a really ineffective presentation without the audience realising it


“It usually takes me 3 weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech” – Mark Twain

Poor man, just as well he was a good writer.  Obviously he wasn’t as skilled at presenting as I am.  I’m so good at presenting, I don’t need to prepare.  I’m good at “winging it”.

The term “wing it” comes from the theatre, where it described the practice of an artiste who had the capacity to play a role without preparation.  To give the performance, an assistant would provide prompting from behind the “wing” of the stage.

“Winging it means that if the presenter wants people to actually understand even the gist of what is said, some care must be taken.  So they talk v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y; use simple words, and generally proceed on the basis that the audience have the brains of a retarded dormouse.  They spell out complicated bits in CAPTIAL LETTERS, speaking more loudly as they do so.  However, they are always careful not to be condescending, as that will upset people (you do know what condescending means don’t you?)”

For this kind of presenter, their entertaining delivery is something to be savoured.  They bring attention to noises from the audience, make fun of the slides that they are obviously not familiar with and impress the mere mortals with their obvious skill.   

The confident and enthusiastic presenter may be entertaining, but if your presenter is “winging it”, are you witnessing an effective presentation?  

The purpose of a presentation is to communicate a message.  For communication to be effective it is necessary to make sure that people:

  • Hear what you say, and thus listen
  • Understand, and do so accurately
  • Agree, well most of it anyway
  • Take action in response

To convey a message, you need to know what it is, and have a plan as to how to present it. 

“Because if you don’t have a message why give the speech. The most powerful message needs to be clear, concise and compelling” says Mark Hardwick, a communications coach.

If you respect your audience and you really want to communicate, you will take the time to prepare.  This preparation involves understanding the message you want to convey yourself, putting it across in a manner that the audience can relate to, then making the action you want to take clear. 

Entertaining the audience means you have the audience’s attention.  As a confident presenter, you can do that.  Take the time to prepare and you may also convey a message that will change their lives, even in a small way, for the better.




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