Is the McCain-style setup a workable option for executives who aren’t brilliant speakers? Michael Johns, formerly a White House speechwriter who’s now a health-care executive, isn’t so sure, especially if that “town hall” format includes taking unscripted questions from the audience.
“The irony of a speaker having greater ease with a town hall-like format is that, at least compared to prepared remarks, the town hall format is almost always the more challenging of the two,” says Johns. “A town hall presentation usually requires vastly more preparation than a traditional speech, since it means developing and rehearsing prepared remarks, but also preparing responses to a nearly unlimited number of potential audience questions.”
If a speaker seems nervous about talking before a large crowd, Johns says practice, not tinkering with the podium or the seat setup, can usually overcome these concerns.