Posted & filed under Blog, Communication Skills Coaching.

How have presentations changed over the last quarter century

With Aziz Corporate now in its thirtieth year it’s interesting to look back on how the whole area of business speaking has evolved. In 1983 we still had the higher reaches of businesses populated by those who were often there because of who they were not what they were. Today that is much less so, with some notable exceptions (James Murdoch?). Meritocracy is the name of the game, but with that came a new breed of executive, good at what they did but often lacking confidence in social skills particularly standing up in front of their erstwhile colleagues having been plucked out for leadership.

“I am just a poor boy from Ayr,” I well remember one client telling me, “And in Ayr, we just don’t stand up and make speeches.” 30 years ago those who did have patrician confidence often relied on lazy forms of speech making. I lost count of how many times I heard the formulaic, “Let me tell you a funny story,” only to hear a lame joke usually with no relevance to the subject matter followed by some turgid stuff written be some wet-behind-the-ears executive assistant which had us losing the will to live, and then rounded off by another joke again with little or no relevance.

Thankfully things have improved

The modern executive is keenly conscious of time; his time and that of the audience. Humour is no longer the preserve of jokes but rather self-deprecating stories about the speaker. Political correctness has all but ruled out the kind of jokes that made Bernard Manning famous; seriously career limiting for the on-the-rise executive. We teach our clients to grab the attention of their audiences by confronting the issue that is uppermost in their minds and then giving them an inspirational vision of how things might be.

All in all, presentations have greatly improved

They are easier to prepare for and waste less time. Done well they can be really effective. So here’s to the next 30 years although how things will change further is anyone’s guess. Any ideas?