Approx Reading Time-8Jeremy Richman reviewed last night’s IQ2 Debate and came up with the conclusion; “the harsh truth is, that they would have achieved a better result by not turning up.”


I went to a surprisingly feisty IQ2OZ debate yesterday run by The Ethics Centre. The motion being debated was Animal Welfare Should Trump Human Interest, and one side lost badly. Before the debate, 44 percent were in favour, 22 percent were against and 34 percent undecided. At the end of the debate, 37 percent were in favour, 53 percent against and 10 percent still couldn’t make up their minds. By any measure, that is a big swing.

My family and I are all strongly in favour of animal welfare, so I spent the drive home pondering why our side lost. They had passion, an abundance of decency, strong facts – admittedly some of which the other side disputed – and they had gone into the debate with a terrific tail wind. But they failed to convert the undecided and even lost some of the support they started with. And it wasn’t because they faced brilliant opponents. The other side were a touch smug and at one point so rude that the moderator, Dr Simon Longstaff, had to pull them into line.

My conclusion: they told the story they wanted to tell, rather than addressing the issue the audience had come to hear. That’s not uncommon; it happens a lot in the business world – in live and video presentations, pitches and in areas such as content marketing and thought leadership. The delivery skills, such as voice, eye contact, body language and content structure, may be there, but the line of thought and the premise of what messages will move the audience miss the mark.

I think there’s a lesson here – one that I would probably be embarrassed to state if I hadn’t seen so many presentations where it is ignored – and it is simply this: don’t start drafting your presentation – whether it’s for live or video delivery – by writing the opening lines. Start by writing how you want your audience to respond, and what you need to say and do in order to achieve that response.


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