Ruin a good presentation in 12 steps or less

Told her help would not be needed, Cassandra listened and learned as a senior speaker fumbled his way through a presentation

I suppose he can’t help it. He’s suffering from a terminal case of “I’m so much smarter than everyone else—especially you.”

Still, I did my job when he received the invitation to speak at a gathering of our senior leaders. I wrote him a good presentation, and was ready to help polish his (sorely lacking) presentation skills with a conveniently scheduled dry run. I even prepared a list of difficult questions he might encounter—with scripted answers.

But he would use none of that (which is rather galling when you consider how much time I spent researching, writing, getting the graphics done and managing the approvals). My speechwriting skills wouldn’t be needed. No, he told me, he understood what senior managers like himself wanted to hear, and I could “better use my time writing stuff for the intranet.”

(At moments like those, it’s a real struggle to overcome the urge to throw your notebook in the nearest trash can, turn on your heel, walk smartly out of the room and never, never look back.)

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