• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 1. The Critical Dynamics of Q&A > Presenter Behavior/Audience Perceptio...

Presenter Behavior/Audience Perception

While Bob Newhart's words and behavior produced a comic effect, any such response in business or social situations would produce dire consequences. A presenter or speaker who exhibits negative behavior produces a negative impression on the audience. This correlation is a critical factor with far-reaching implications in any communication setting, particularly so in the mass media.

Pedro Martinez's behavior produced reams of caustic cynical reaction in the press, and even stronger criticism on the Internet. The day after his press conference, the fan chat boards lit up with vituperative messages, several of which referred to the pitcher as “Paydro.”

While Martinez went on to join the Mets unaffected, Trent Lott did not get off so lightly. His behavior on Black Entertainment Television had a profound effect on public opinion. The week after his appearance, with the furor unabated, a disgraced Lott resigned his position as Senate Majority Leader.

Ross Perot's behavior on the Larry King program also had a profound effect on public opinion. Figure 1.1 shows the results of polls taken on the day before and the day after the debate.

Figure 1.1. 1993 NAFTA public opinion polls. (Reprinted by permission of Business Week.)

In the 48 hours between the two polls, the only factor with any impact on the NAFTA issue was the debate on the Larry King program. It had to be Ross Perot's contentious behavior that swung the undecided respondents against his cause.

One final example of negative behavior in response to challenging questions comes from that most challenging of all business communications, an IPO road show. When companies go public, the chief officers develop a presentation that they take on the road to deliver to investors in about a dozen cities, over a period of two weeks, making their pitch up to 10 times day for a total of 60 to 80 iterations.

The company in this particular case had a very successful business. They had accumulated 16 consecutive quarters of profitability. Theirs was a very simple business concept: a software product that they sold directly into the retail market. The CEO, having made many presentations over the years to his consumer constituency, as well as to his industry peers, was a very proficient presenter. At the start of the road show, the anticipated price range of the company's offering was nine to eleven dollars per share.

However, the CEO, having presented primarily to receptive audiences, was unaccustomed to the kind of tough questions investors ask. Every time his potential investors challenged him, he responded with halting and uncertain answers.

After the road show, the opening price of the company's stock was nine dollars a share, the bottom of the offering range. Given the three million shares offered, the swing cost the company six million dollars.

The conclusion from the foregoing harkens back to David Bellet's observation that investors are not seeking an education; they are looking to see how a presenter stands up in the line of fire. Investors kick the tires to see how the management responds to adversity. Audiences kick tires to assess a presenter's mettle. Employers kick the tires of prospective employees to test their grit. In all these challenging exchanges, the presenter must exhibit positive behavior that creates a positive impression on the audience.

The first steps in learning how to behave effectively begin in the next chapter.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint