How to deliver a presentation when you are full of the cold…

coldDo you watch The Apprentice? It has become a firm family favourite in our house at a time when we rarely all sit down together to watch anything on the TV or find something that appeals to both me, my husband and my teenage son.

But there is nothing quite like a programme that generates discussion, difference of opinion and good old” I could do that better!’, than The Apprentice.

Last week one of the candidates stepped out of doing a major presentation/pitch because she was unwell and feared coughing and spluttering her way through. (Actually in the end she was ‘fired’ and that’s another story) but both my husband and son turned to ask me what would I have done in that situation.

It’s a tricky one isn’t it? You’ve got the pitch of your life but have lost your voice or feel under the weather.


The closest I came to a situation like that was losing my voice when delivering a two-day programme for a corporate client. With twelve people on the programme and candidates drawn from all over America and Europe, this wasn’t a good time to cancel or rearrange. My saving grace was that it was training, rather than straight up presenting so I amended my session to be even more interactive than normal (any session of mine includes a fair bit of doing not just listening!). I changed the layout of the room so that the ‘teaching element’ was cosier than the standard layout and meant I didn’t have to strain or stretch my already fragile voice. And I delegated some tasks – instructions, domestics and reviews to the learners (which worked incredibly well and which I have done since even when my voice is in tiptop condition.

And then I delivered in short bursts. Drank plenty of water. Gargled with honey and lemon and drank lots of herbal teas with lemon and ginger in them ( works for me!). I stood to deliver key points and sat to review and reflect and give feedback. I took a break when the learners did. And I accepted help when offered. I had an early night dosed up to the eyeballs and had a warm bath in the morning. And survived.

Of course, my solutions can work even when you are not ill. Delivering in well crafted, succinct and well-delivered chunks is always much more effective than droning on for ages with an ill-constructed pitch. Drinking water, resting and accepting help means you can focus your energy on delivering a purposeful message to those humans sat there in front of you – allows you to be fully present!

So, back to The Apprentice. In this situation I think she made the right call but possibly for the wrong reason. Sure, she wasn’t well but the back-story was that she had seriously messed up a big presentation before; she was nervous and uncomfortable in putting herself in the firing line again and didn’t really ‘get’ the product. Bowing out was hiding strategy. But of course that’s what makes the programme so enjoyable in our household because there is always someone who will disagree!

What are your thoughts on this one? Would love to hear from you!



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