Giving a keynote speech at a major industry conference or event such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is one thing.
And appearing on a panel is another. Keynote speakers and panelists have much in common, in fact they are often the very same people.
But there’s a difference. Your conference speech is planned, prepared, scripted and rehearsed. Your contribution as a panelist is not. Yes, you should rehearse the questions you expect to receive, but there’s always the chance of something out of the ordinary.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is a case in point. He’s never that shy of speaking his mind and is an inveterate conference speaker.
So his appearance on the Next Big Thing panel organised by CNET was an eye-opener.
It wasn’t disastrous. It simply highlighted the dangers of management-speak and techno-babble in your presentations, speeches or panel sessions.
His debate featured heavy use of management-speak and techno-babble. His audience heard:
Microsoft’s trapped in an architectural transition problem they may not get through.
and, talking about Android, he noted:
differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative,
…what people really care about is an interoperable ecosystem of apps.
Superb. And because people in his audience were a bit puzzled with his words, he added:
Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they’re going to compete on their view of innovation, and they’re going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.
Clear? No, I’m afraid you lost me there Eric.
It’s amusing to listen to this gobbledegook for a while. Though the novelty wears off quickly. You’d do better to ditch the management-speak, bury the techno-babble and focus on good plain words when it’s your turn to speak as a panelist. We can’t all be the Google Chairman!
The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+