Finding the funny in a speaker’s life
Confessions of an Over-Tinkerer U mmm …” Did that just come out of my mouth? “Now let’s talk about, ahh …” What the heck? More “umms” than the Dragnet theme song, and here I am reading from my slides. Who am I—a new character in “The King’s Speech” It was a snowy Minnesota morning in December, and I was presenting to a group of doctors in a chilly hotel con- ference room. The room wasn’t the only thing that was cold. It hit me in an instant what the problem was: I had finally gone too far. I altered just enough of my presen- tation—pretty much the same one
I’ve given dozens of times during the
last three years—to toss myself over
Maybe I wasn’t the busiest speaker
on the planet last year. Too much time
between speeches means too much time
to tinker. And tinker some more.
Confession: When given enough
time between gigs, I suffer from “
Over-Tinker Syndrome,” or OTS for short.
(Some of you may have it, too.) If I
have time, I will tweak and twist the
words in my presentation, even though
it had landed bookings and engaged
audiences just as it is (or was). If only
I could customize it a tad to my audience, and then just let it go. But no—I
need to keep tinkering.
That Saturday in December, I “
umm-ed” and turned toward the screen
because I had changed some perfectly
good statements. Adjusting to the new
and not-so-improved version forced me
to interrupt the flow.
My affliction doesn’t stop at only
presentations. Bios, introductions and
session outlines all get the royal treatment. They used to sound similar—you
know, that “brand consistency” thing
that I preach. What I used to call “
continuous improvement,” I now realize is
just my excuse for “over-engineering.”
So here are my new rules:
1. Get more engagements to stay too
busy to tinker.
2. Go back to my original presentation, apply the things I’ve learned over
the past few years, and build on that solid
3. Stick with that presentation until it
needs fine-tuning. (I don’t want to still
be using that line about my Selectric
Most times, original ideas and intent
are stronger than the revised versions.
Did you read Blink Then you know that
all of us are capable of making impor-
tant decisions quickly, based on instinct,
Good speakers have road-tested core
messages and stories that travel with
them over time, because they inter-
est audiences. It takes discipline to stay
on message, because it may not sound
“fresh” to the speaker anymore. But it’s
new to the people that matter!
Good. Almost done. Now, for the final
touches before Speaker magazine calls me
again for the final version of my arti …
Dan Day, president of Brandtender Marketing, is an author and recognized expert at linking brands to people and those people to customers. He
wrote Brandtender Marketing: True Customer
Engagement from the Inside Out, to detail his
belief that people are your brand. Day can be
reached at email@example.com.