Communicating with the Public: Appropriate Candor in a Presentation
Posted by Anni M.
If you are someone who gives presentations within your company, chances are good you might be asked to give a presentation to members of the public. This might be to demonstrate a product or service or to educate the public about what your company is and what you do. Public relations is a challenging field rife with potential problems (business schools have started incorporating it into their curricula for just this reason). If you say too much, you risk exposing details about your company that your boss would rather keep under wraps. If you don’t say enough, you’ll leave the public feeling like your company is tight-lipped, secretive, and suspect. Navigating this fine line comes naturally to some while others find it difficult. If you prepare thoroughly—researching your company’s public relations policy—you can avoid a lot of basic blunders.
Do Your Homework
As mentioned above, if you take the time to research what you should and shouldn’t say, you’ll be well-prepared for audience questions. Try to put yourself in your boss’ shoes. Would you want the public to know about your recent financial problems? Would you want to share your firing policy with the world? These are obvious examples that simply require some basic common sense. In order to prepare yourself for the gray area, discuss current company policy with your boss and managers. Try to brainstorm your own hard-hitting questions and figure out how you’d answer them. You can’t prepare yourself for everything but if you have a general strategy for handling tough questions you’ll be better able to roll with the unexpected punches.
Having solid numbers is a great way to legitimize your message… legitimately!
Focus on Presentation
When you’re presenting to the public, use your whole toolbox. Use all of the tricks you know to make your presentation outstanding. Think about your tone of voice, making eye contact, sticking to solid facts and figures, and using really engaging images or video. Make the most of your stage with props, costumes, and lighthearted humor. The more engaged and delighted the audience is with you as a performer, the less likely they are to give you a hard time with their questions. Plus, if you offer a comprehensive perspective you’ll seem open and honest. The great part is it’s all scripted, so you can edit carefully beforehand to avoid any inappropriate remarks.
Be Extremely Polite
When the audience asks tough questions, address them with courtesy. When you are polite, your audience feels sympathy for you as a person. They may have a problem with some detail of company policy but they won’t blame you. This gives you a huge advantage. It will allow you to diffuse their anger or frustration while you address their concerns.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..