Don’t Start Your Presentation by Admitting You’re out of Touch

by Gilda Bonanno

I once saw a speaker start a presentation to an audience of two hundred people by saying, "Of course, unlike all of you practitioners, I've been a consultant for the past several years, so I am out of touch with industry practices and what you face every day.”

He started his presentation by saying what??

Perhaps he was trying to compliment the practitioners in the audience.  Perhaps he thought it would sound self-deprecating. Perhaps he thought it was a humorous stereotype about consultants.  Whatever his reasoning, it was misguided.  As a result, he essentially started his presentation by admitting that he had nothing valuable to say because he was out of touch about the topic.  Why should the audience listen to him (and worse, why should the association have paid him)?

While you shouldn’t go to the opposite extreme and start your presentation by bragging about your fantastic accomplishments, I would have thought it was obvious that you should never begin by admitting how little you know about the topic and how disconnected you are from the everyday realities of the work.

By the way, this was no rookie speaker – he is someone who is considered an expert in his field and has been paid to speak in front of many audiences. And he should have known better.

The next time you have to give a presentation, learn from his mistake – don’t start by proclaiming your ignorance. 

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