Chapter 12 Lecture:
Lack of Ethics: The Worst Deadly Sin in a Presentation
A listening audience will distrust speakers who misrepresent, exaggerate, and lie. Audiences also dislike cover-ups and evasiveness. Think about some of these “deadly sins.” Have you heard speakers who lie or misrepresent when they have a particular point of view to champion, a product to sell, or a territory to protect? This questions goes to the heart of motivation. What motivates people? After the lowest physiological needs are met, people generally are motivated by ego and self-actualization needs. Refer to Chapter 7 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
What about the loss of credibility in the stock market after it was revealed that reputable companies employed managers who urged brokers to sell weak stocks to unsuspecting investors. In one advertisement, an actor portraying a Wall Street Manager urges his brokers by saying, “Let’s put some lipstick on this pig” (Patrick McGeehan, “Washington Insider, But Wall St. Pariah,” The New York Times, 24 November 2002, Sec. 3, p. 1.) The juicy metaphor “put some lipstick on this pig” evokes an immediate picture of the deception involved in promoting weak stocks to innocent buyers. This advertisement was sponsored by the brokerage firm of Charles Schwab, which claimed that it did not engage in such unethical practices. The advertisement, roundly criticized by other brokerage houses, was quickly withdrawn.
What happens when a speaker loses credibility? If a speaker has four major points to make, and one of the points is unbelievable, then audiences tend to discredit all four points. When audiences lose faith in the credibility of the speaker, they tend to discount everything that is presented.
Learn how to polish your delivery by reading the oral presentation suggestions given on pages 361 to 365. They form a foundation that will help you prepare and increase your confidence the next time you must speak before a group.