Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever

Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever

Break the Rules, Make Mistakes, and Win Them Over

Berrett-Koehler, 2014 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


A former improvisational comedian who has been on the stage since age five, Karen Hough has helped more than 1,000 professionals become better presenters. She offers accessible, hilarious lessons showing you how to use proven improv techniques to become a powerful public speaker. Her message is simple: Be yourself. Hough’s presentation ideas are mostly practical and to the point. You may disagree with her advice not to practice in front of a mirror – because, she says, “it gives no feedback” – but you’ll find most of her counsel fun and useful. getAbstract recommends Hough’s witty, real-world advice to anyone who must stand up in front of a room full of people and start talking.


Ignore the Rules

To become a great presenter, forget everything you’ve been told about public speaking. Don’t mimic distinguished orators or popular entertainers. Stay away from the speaking classes with all their confusing do’s and don’ts. Ignore any rules about public speaking. These Presentation 101 memes are out of date, including: “Always stand to the left of the screen,” “Never cross the beam of the projector” and “Remain detached during the presentation.” Trying to abide by these archaic axioms will make you uncomfortable and give you more to worry about than simply getting up there and speaking in front of others.

When you speak in public, be “your authentic self.” Your nervousness and mistakes endear you to your audience and will disappear as you gain confidence. This simple philosophy about public speaking fits in six words: “Be human, be you, make mistakes!” Audiences dislike slick packaging and love authenticity: “the real deal – lumps, imperfections and all.”

Audiences respond positively to sincere passion that engages their attention and emotions. In her essay, “How to Fascinate,” Sally Hogshead advises, “Think back to a time...when you were leading...

About the Author

Karen Hough, a graduate of Yale and the Sorbonne and CEO of ImprovEdge, trained with Chicago’s Second City and performed in more than 100 live and filmed productions.

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