Most people are scared of public speaking, rating it up there with divorce, bereavement and moving house as one of life’s most stressful events. Really it is not that bad after the first few.
The best kind of presentation is one you have done before, or at least one that is not very different to previous ones. The familiarity and the memory of previous good deliveries, turn the ordeal into an almost pleasant experience.
By contrast, the worst kind of presentation is delivering someone else’s material. From friends’ horror tales, it is clear that this scenario has a high potential for disaster. “I looked at your slide and my mind went completely blank,” one told me.
One thing the Blog has learnt in recent weeks is that the worst kind of slides to borrow are ones involving Chinese petchem plant capacities. Never, never borrow slides showing figures or graphs for Chinese production, because they will keep you up late into the night trying to work out whether these are in thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions.
In China it is commonplace to talk in tens of thousands (wan), so a 5 on a graph with no explanation is most likely to mean 50,000 tonnes. But a slide borrowed from an English-speaking colleague may or may not already be converted into thousands (ie 5 = 5,000). It is the road to ruin, and the only solution is to take the slides out before anyone notices.