Saturday, 26 May 2012

Delivering a better presentation / training course. No. 4. Don’t swear!

This is the fourth in a series of posts where I plan to discuss my ideas, tips and best practices for delivering a great presentation / training course. This is another obvious one, right? Don’t swear!

This is another one of those obvious ones and yet I have often heard presenters do it.

Now I am not talking about full on foul language that would make my mother blush as that is totally unacceptable.

However, what about a low level word like (and I am deliberately misspelling here) carp? I'm sure I have seen that word on a newspaper cover. Granted it was a tabloid with a red top.

I am sure that to some trainers, words like this are in common parlance and don't give it a second thought.

I know for a fact that some trainers do it deliberately as a means of engaging with a male only group and to become 'one of the guys'.

I have to admit to having used the carp word once or twice when experimenting with techniques to keep the attention of delegates. It can be difficult to maintain a delegate's attention. Particularly in the afternoon when they have already been sat listening to you for several hours and have now eaten. Whenever I spotted a delegate begin to nod off, I contrived to slip the carp word in.

Sure enough, it would be enough to give the person a slight jolt. Perhaps they were thinking "did he just say carp?"

After a while, I stopped using it as it was earning me a frown from some delegates and there are plenty of other techniques for keeping a group engaged/awake (I feel another post coming on).

It was brought home to me a few months ago. I was attending a Windows 8 Train the Trainer event and one of the presenters strolled onto the stage looking quite scruffy. There's casual and then there's "going dressed to steal cars". (There's another post right there!) Anyway, about midway through his presentation he used the carp word and I was taken aback.

As someone who has used the word himself in a presentation (and much worse in a car), I was quite put out. So much so that I almost certainly missed whatever he said next. Good job I recorded the session.

I used to work with a guy who is a popular international speaker. I delivered a course for a client a week or two after he had delivered a course there. The client made a point of telling me that the previous trainer had sworn and they didn't approve. So much so that they told the training company to make sure that this particular trainer was never sent to them again. Unfortunately, none of that was shared with the trainer, so that he could take it on board. The training company simply sent someone else.

So as the saying goes, "It's not big and it's not clever!". Swearing doesn't add anything of value to the presentation and can only detract from it.

So don't do it.

"Simple as" as my son's Film Studies lecturer once said to me at a parents evening. Where do they find these people?

See you soon

Phil Stirpé
"I don't do average!"

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