I happened to watch an episode of the reality TV show Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane about the life of “model, mogul and mom” Kimora Lee Simmons. For readers who don’t know who she is (I barely know not being a fan of such programmes) she is a model who has her own company Baby Phat which produces urban fashion. She is the ex-wife of rapper Russell Simmons, he of Def Jam.
Anyway, in this particular episode she has to speak to a large audience, but she had a lot of notes written on her hand. She brought attention to this, but it didn’t seem to endear her to the crowd.
My fiance then asked me an interesting question:
“If you have notes written on your hand is it better to draw attention to it and hope to get a laugh, or to be a ninja about it and not let anyone see?”
Very good question.
I think that it depends on the circumstances. If you project confidence and charisma and the audience already feel secure with you as a presenter and you acknowledged that you had notes written on your hand then we would forgive the speaker and probably even laugh.
For instance, it is quite widely acknowledged that Barack Obama is a great speaker. If we got up on stage, wowed us with a strong opening but then confessed that he had notes written on his hand and even showed us a large proportion of the audience would laugh. We would love him even more for it, because he has already clearly established that he is a strong speaker. Especially if after that acknowledgement he “busted out” a great speech.
If on the other hand, it was a speaker like John McCain and he did the same thing, I think the audience would react differently. Now, when I say audience I’m not saying one made up solely of Democrats who wouldn’t like McCain anyway. Not am I saying Republicans who would love him anyway. I’m saying a good mixture of people.
For me he hasn’t really projected himself as being a good speaker to begin with. I don’t think that he particularly has the charm or grace that Obama displays. Therefore, I’m not completely convinced that he could pull off such a move.
The same thing with Kimora Lee Simmons. Right from the outset she projected lack of confidence. Therefore, by acknowledging, as she did, he notes she reinforced her air of an in experienced presenter. I think if you are nervous you need to be more rehearsed and knowledgeable about what it is that you’re saying. So you need to be a ninja about it.
Whereas, if you’re uber confident and a strong speaker to begin with and had got the audience on your side and made them laugh i think they would be very forgiving if you acknowledged that you had notes written on your hand.