The above picture is “Ascending And Descending” by MC Escher. I think it’s fair to say that if an actual architect designed this, instead of an artist, it would be a serious fail. However, if you look at it in pieces, something interesting happens.
Look at the left side …
There’s nothing wrong with this, is there? It shows people going around two corners.
Now look at the right side …
Again, there’s nothing wrong with this half of the picture. It shows people going around a corner.
Each piece is fine on its own, but when you put them together, bad things happen. This is not a trick of selective cropping. I invite you to divide the original picture from top to bottom using your hand to cover the other half. Look at all four corners individually. The same thing always happens. It seems to be ok in pieces, but when you bring the pieces together, it just doesn’t work.
People sometimes feel that they can take this approach to speechcraft or presentations. They believe that one party can work on the content, and another party can handle the delivery. But when you work on pieces individually, they don’t always come together properly.
I once coached someone who was delivering a presentation at a trade show. Unfortunately she didn’t know what she was supposed to present because her boss hadn’t delivered her the latest slides yet. Her request? “Maybe you can coach me through a similar presentation I gave a while back, and hopefully, the new one won’t be too different.”
It turns out that the slides she eventually got were vastly different from the ones we practiced with. The best I could have hoped for was that she remembered enough general principles of delivery, and she was able to apply them on the fly. But she had almost no time to learn and internalize the content before she took the stage.
Working on a speech/presentation from start to finish (with the help of a good coach instead of a speech writer) allows you to think about all aspects of it to ensure everything works together unlike MC Escher’s “Ascending And Descending”. It ensures that you have a consistent message and that you are doing everything to convey your message.
A speech developed in pieces … ought to rest in pieces.