Went to the local FCA banquet last night. The guest keynote speaker was Brian Roberts. I’ve gotten in the habit of setting my expectations rather low when folks who don’t speak in public much are on such a podium. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.There were four “amateurs” from FCA who spoke, the MC for the evening, and then Brian. None were horrible, all had some very natural strengths, and the setup was designed well to help them along by using an intervieiwer to walk them through the discussion. The interviewers usually read their questions, which was a bit distracting, but it made sure that the (scripted) questions were spot on, the show finished on time, and no one got off the beaten path.When Brian Roberts came on, he quickly showed he was pretty adept at handling off-the-cuff questions as well as ground balls and sliders. He showed a very candid and honest approach, came across incredibly genuine, and injected enough humor to be quite entertaining. He has just had elbow surgery and thus had a lame left arm which sat limp in his lap, sat with absolutely no motion on a stool, and chomped gum the whole time — that is, there was little in his delivery that would have won any awards. But his content and candidness was engaging and personal and the audience never strayed. At the end the MC took questions from the audience, and they were handled with aplomb and humor, but I think I was most impressed with the directness with which he answered. There wasn’t the political evasiveness I guess I’ve come to expect. It was refreshing, and reminded me that an otherwise unspectacular delivery style can be easily overcome with a connection to the audience. I’ve had presenters with a lot better mechanics and form bore folks to tears with content that just didn’t do it.

Content + delivery = presentation. A connection with the audience overcomes a boatload of ills.

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