What you See is What you Get

This year one of the areas of focus I have made a commitment to is in hearing public servants speak. You can tell a lot from a person’s presentation.

Forget the fact that often these people are trying to appear “off-the-cuff” by using teleprompters. It may appear they are often looking at any of us, yet if we are standing in the line of focus between the podium and the teleprompter, we may momentarily think they not only are looking at us – they keep coming back to us as well!

Can you see the teleprompter posts? If so, what you see is what you get. The speaker is focusing where the message is, not where the audience is. And there is little connection they are making to the audience as a result. Forget the fact that teleprompters are designed to lend the feeling of strong audience connection. It doesn’t happen. The speaker is too focused on staying on top of the message to take time to make eye contact.

It may appear they have their message committed to memory, yet they are completely dependent on the script showing up in two sight lines, one on the right and one on the left, allowing them to span the audience continually. The message may be familiar to them, yet it isn’t solid.

No matter how much they review that message, as long as it is presented in front of them, they will seek it. And this doesn’t give them comfort. It gives them great pain. It is unnatural. It doesn’t allow them to have necessary pauses, to look away momentarily, to be enlightened by a sudden thought. The pain of the teleprompting is the technical team controls the pace of the speaker by controlling the pace of the script.

What happens to the speaker is transparent. Unnatural restriction of emotion overwhelms them. When smiles, frowns, joy, frustration, admiration or other emotion could naturally support the speaker’s words, there is a blank face. Blank, because the speaker doesn’t allow life to enter the moment. Blank, because there is little heartfelt sensibility going on. Blank, because the pacing disallows emotional engagement.

Instead, redness out of embarrassment, out of stress or pressure to stay “on” in a rhythmic, vocal way, redness overtakes the speaker’s face and nervousness becomes their mode of operation.

This is a very transparent experience. The speaker appears befuddled, or overwhelmed, or unsure or lacking commitment. The speaker seems unprofessional as a result.

What you see is a speaker reading a monitor, disconnected to their passion behind the message. They are following the teleprompter vs. leading the audience towards influence. Turn off the teleprompter! If the speaker is making a commitment to their message, prove it. Study it, practice it, become it and present it. Otherwise, the speech is no longer important. Only watching the speaker try to keep up is important. Only watching whether they are connected to their own message is important. Only watching to see whether they will look anyone in the eyes while speaking words from their heart is important.

What you SEE is what you get.

Share Button
On July 7th, 2010, posted in: Connecting, Delivery by