5 reasons unprepared speakers are bad for business

Having people who represent your company get up on stage in front of a live audience means you trust that they will do an outstanding job. Do you value this opportunity enough to invest in them?

These are the five reasons unprepared speakers look bad for your business.

1. When they don't prepare, it looks like they don't care

It takes a special kind of heartlessness towards an audience to not be prepared. So why are there so many unprepared speakers getting on stage and making it so painful for everyone? I don't believe anyone is consciously wanting to be heartless, I think they underestimate how much preparation is required to construct and deliver a high-quality presentation.

The average time needed to be fully prepared is at least an hour of development for every minute of content creation. So a 15-minute presentation will need at least 15 hours of preparation.

Here is a little secret, a lot of employees resent having to present information for their business, and that's why they put it off. There’s nothing more devastating than to hear the words "I have to deliver this stupid talk next week". We know that unsupported employees don’t put in the effort that you, as the owner would. Think about that for a moment as you sip your latte and they sabotage your business brand.

It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to design a talk with the audience in mind, removing technical internal language that's confusing, and crafting a logical flow of ideas and thoughts that are easy to follow for anyone who is a non-subject matter expert.

This type of preparation is consuming and it might seem like wasted energy, but if they don't do it your audience will think your business doesn't care if they understand or not, they are led to believe that their ability to understand doesn't matter and in fact, they don't matter.

If you care about how your audience perceives your business and how your message is received then be prepared.

2. They look like they don't know what they are doing

The night before a big presentation is not the ideal time to realise you should have given yourself more time. “Umm, sorry about this! I didn't have much time to prepare”. Nothing screams unprofessional like a public declaration of procrastination and poor time management, and nothing says unprepared like a handful of tattered notes with a dazed, confused, and disorientated look on a speaker.

When you hit the stage unprepared, you know you messed up. It feels like being covered in honey and having bees set upon you. There is a sting that you can’t avoid.

We've all seen it, the last-minute throw-together of a sloppy slide deck, cut and paste from the website or 1980s clipart with stick figures to boot.

This type of mistake looks bad, really bad. Imagine the impact on the viewer, what does this say about prioritisation of time and procrastination? What does this say about the up-to-date technically savvy business leaders, what does this say about the business behind the person giving the presentation? Nothing good that's for sure!

A disorganised, poorly planned-out presentation will leave the audience wondering if your employees know what they’re doing.

3. They look like they don't know what they are talking about

You don't have to be an authority in your field to read word for word off of a PowerPoint, you don't even need to be there, just send them the handout notes, and the audience can read it themselves, at home, with a hot cup of tea, in their loafers, that are comfortable.

If they set up their visuals as a crutch to use, as a giant post-it note that they read off, then they have pretty much just given the biggest presentation of their life that shows a whole room full of potential customers that they don't know what they're talking about.

4. The company doesn't invest in its people

You don't get professional presentation coaching or training in high school, university, or even on a Master or Ph.D. At no time in anyone’s life have they been professionally prepared to speak and yet in business, it is expected that employees will be good at it. It's all a little strange when you think about it, isn't it?

I've spoken with all sorts, from students doing MBAs to law students undertaking a five-year degree and they have all said the same thing; "I wish presentation and speaker coaching was part of the curriculum because when we go out into the real world our success in communication is everything".

Employees have two choices; freak out about it and pretend it's not happening or freak out about it and stress endlessly over it then have the stress affect all areas of their work and mental health.

The organisations I've worked with have recognised this and taken action, they know that without professional assistance their employee's productivity will drop if they aren’t given help. They know that just because the person on stage isn't the CEO it doesn't mean they are not representing the whole company and they want that person to do an outstanding job.

Every person who gets on stage and speaks has an opportunity to build liking, trust, and respect for the business they work for.

5. There is a culture that doesn't support employee success and sets them up to fail

Who do you ask for help? Who will give you their time? Who within the organisation will give you honest and accurate developmental feedback that is qualified to do so? What does it say about an organisational culture when employees are set up to fail?

The success of an individual is a reflection of the success of an organisation's culture.

To finish off

Helping your people to succeed means providing them with the tools to successfully represent your organisation, to be able to provide clear messaging, and to make your audience and potential customers feel valued.

If you’re looking for training, we recommend you check out The Art of Epic Communication workshop. We can help you boost your company image and your employees will thank you for it.

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