Over promising and under delivering?

Tips on how to protect your public presentations from some common mistakes.

Note: One of the rules of successful entrepreneurs is to deliver value and more value. Give people more than they expect and they will be a happy customer. However, one must be careful not to put the cart before the horse by digging themselves into a hole making unnecessary promises and un-leveraging the valuable content of their presentation . This is true for public speakers and leaders who must communicate with all manner of groups. Public speaking is difficult enough, so following a few rules to avoid common thoughtless mistakes can maintain the integrity of your presentation and your reputation.

The following is a passage from master presenter, Tony Jeary, is found in this book “Inspire any Audience,” (1997).


Venice: One of the most romantic cities in the world

Venice: One of the most romantic cities in the world. Over delivers. (1989) Photo: Challen Yee



Making promises we can’t keep is a bad habit. Often in our everyday lives, we’re tempted to promise things we know will be difficult – whether it’s to spend more time with our families, deliver something at work, or meet a friend. Sometimes the reason we do this is because promising is easier than facing the truth-that we might not have time to get the job done or don’t want to meet the friend. Try to remember the times you’ve been in a jam for promising more than you could deliver!

The temptation to promise more than you can deliver in a presentation is at least as strong as in everyday life. After all, you can really dazzle your audience with an opener that promises to answer all their questions, keep them entertained, and make them rich. However, audiences are shrewd. They’ll start to catch on quickly that you’re not backing up your promises -that you are failing to deliver value. Once that happens, you’ll have a hard time keeping your credibility level high. Solve this problem by not promising too much. If you keep the level of expectation within reason – by not over promising – our audience will be thrilled when they get more than they expected!

Avoid Promising Too Much

Over promising is like charging up a credit card. It feels good for a moment but later you have to pay up – sometimes more than you can afford. Don’t fall into the trap! The following are a few common situations where the temptation to over promise is strong:

>- Promising more value than you can deliver. Don’t say, “By the time you’re done with this presentation, you’ll know more about this topic than your bosses do.” Try this, “I promise to use all the skill I have to make this information easy to understand and this presentation fun!”

>- Promising things you can’t control. Don’t promise a great lunch or an early ending time or great future success.

>- Promising things will occur at specific times. Don’t promise lunch will be at noon. If it’s ten minutes late, you have failed. Under promise by saying we’ll get to lunch as early as possible, depending on how much material we cover. No one will know lunch was ten minutes late.

>- When asked when the presentation is scheduled to end, be conservative in your estimate. Even people who want to listen to you like to know when the talk will end. Create your presentations so that you have plenty of extra time. If you know your talk will last until 2:00 p.m., announce that you plan to close at 3:00 p.m. If you finish ten minutes late, your audience will feel they are getting out fifty minutes early.

>- Building up jokes or segments of your talk beyond what you can realistically deliver. Many a good joke has been killed by the buildup. When you say, “Let me tell you the funniest joke I ever heard in my life,” you set the bar very high indeed. Just tell the joke. An unexpected bit of humor is always better than an expected one. Likewise, use short translations between sections of your talk. Avoid the temptation to “build up” the next topic you’re going to talk about.


If you’ve received value from this, please LIKE SHARE COMMENT

If you’d like to send me and email, please do at: challenyee@challenyee.com

I’ll see you… on the next page

Challen Yee

Challen Yee


Comments are closed.