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A speaker’s nightmare!

One of the tips I pass on in my presentation/public speaking training courses is to always remain alert when you’re sharing a platform and to listen to what your fellow speaker is saying.  The consequences of not following this advice can be not only embarrassing but damaging to the speaker’s ‘brand’. 

A client of mine learned this the hard way.   He was involved in a one plus two interview session at a major literary festival, promoting his latest book, alongside another speaker who was doing likewise.  Having asked my client a number of questions, the interviewer turned his attention to the other writer.  My client relaxed a little and started planning his next key message.  At this point the interviewer refocused on my client with the words – ‘And what about you, have you had the same experience with your book?’   Thus the nightmare begins.  What to say?  Admit that you weren’t listening?  Play for time with a fainting fit, a la Basil Fawlty?  Fortunately, my client applied a technique which we’d rehearsed in the training room – ‘satisfy and steer’ – which is useful for questions which are difficult to answer. 

The basic idea is to address the question with a generic phrase but then move on to one of your key messages without appearing to have avoided the question (so obvious and so irritating for the audience).  So my client was able to respond with ‘Yes, to some extent, but what I also experienced with this book was’ ………….. segueway to key message.  Crisis averted.  ‘Brand’ in tact.  Hair a little thinner.