The most effective presentation can be one you don’t give.
In the last couple of days there have been several examples of people talking to the media when they obviously shouldn’t have. I’ve included a couple of examples broadcast yesterday from Charlie Sheen and Qaddafi, plus a classic denial from John Edwards.
Were they under the influence? Overly impressed with their own abilities to manage their interviewers and persuade an audience? Just nuts? Some combination of all three? At this point it may be impossible to say. What is clear is that they did more harm to their causes than they helped them. As of this morning Qaddafi is still hanging on in Libya, but Sheen has at– at least temporarily– lost custody of two of his children.
Hopefully this won’t happen to you. The subjects you’ve spent the last 40 years oppressing will never revolt, and you’ll never have your $2,000,000 a week salary cut off. But if ever find yourself in a similarly sticky situation, remember that sometimes the best thing to do is resist the urge to call Matt Lauer.
Other, more common predicaments are also a good reason to say no. Try to decline if you know that you’re not the right person to give a talk, or if you won’t have enough time to prepare. There are cases where you just can’t win.
This article from the Times reminds us that sometimes it’s best just to keep your mouth shut.