WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Casting a reality check on real-world conundrums
Since you already agreed
to speak, my only question
would be to consider how
much your word is worth.
We have already determined
that the price of the speech
is “exposure.” With that, be
careful about what you’re
being exposed to.
I see two parts to this
question: The first one is I have
made a commitment, and I
would follow through on it.
The second part is educating.
I’m not one who gives
presentations as sales pitches,
and people need to know
that. Clarify that “free” for me
means “donated” and explain
I made a commitment to
allocate a portion of my time
to pro bono work in order to
give back to my community. If
I happen to do an exceptional
job and word gets out there,
then that is just icing on the
You accepted an offer to speak for free
to a corporate audience. You heard
that a senior executive feels that “free”
presentations are just sales pitches
with no content. He won’t attend and
might discourage other employees from
attending. What do you do?
The senior executive
has a point. It does seem that
many speeches have become
extended sales pitches. To that
end, I would give my speech
a close critique to ensure that
it has not drifted into that
territory. Then I would offer
all senior management an
outline and explain the “end
goal” of my topic, and then
deliver more than I promised.
If you wow the crowd that IS
there, it will get back to that
executive—and maybe even
change his mind.
One person does not make an audience. There is no way you
can please all people at all times. This person was being authentic
with his beliefs. Let us give him credit for stating his beliefs
upfront. I believe the hallmark of a great speaker is one who gives
her all each time, no matter what the circumstances.
—Terri (Cooke) Bruce
After agreeing to speak—
short of an actual death in the
family—any reason for not
honoring your commitment
is ethically inappropriate. That
means crafting an outstanding
presentation suited to
your audience’s needs and
delivering it with the conviction
that every word matters.
By doing this, you provide
contrary evidence to the senior
executive’s notion that free
speeches are nothing but “sales
pitches with no content.
What Would You Do? is a regular column
that presents a real-life dilemma faced
by professional speakers. NSA members
are encouraged to submit a dilemma
for possible discussion in this column.
Please submit dilemmas to email@example.com. NSA reserves the right to
edit submissions for length and style. All
dilemmas will be anonymously attributed. Opinions expressed are those of
the individual respondents, not NSA.
If I made a date, I’d keep it. However, before the presentation,
I might also try to send a message to the company’s top
executives thanking them for their assumed attendance, and
providing them with a brief overview of my presentation’s
content and the benefits of personally attending.
—Ken Wallace, MDiv, CSL
—Dr. David A. Camp