Leaving aside the distasteful aspects of the suggestion that September 11th 2001 was, as the memo has been paraphrased, “a good day to bury bad news“, this is a concept I often think about when I’m attending a presentation. I wonder whether the speaker really wants the audience to take in the message, or whether the true purpose of the session is to provide a record that this information has been stated, albeit in such a way that most people didn’t notice.
If you’re seeking to bury your message, here are three pretty sure-fire ways to go about it:
Talk a lot, talk fast. Go into excessive detail and create a wall of sound that the audience cannot penetrate. Give them no opportunity to reflect on what you’re saying.
Divide the audience’s attention. While you’re speaking, show slides with lots of text on them. It’s impossible to listen and read at the same time, so your message will escape through the gap.
Distract the audience with your activities. Keep pushing your hair or glasses back, pick up your water and wave it around, stride about and let them speculate how long it’ll be before you trip over a cable or bump into the projector table.
These are tried and tested methods I’ve witnessed on countless occasions. Follow this advice and you’ve got a 95+% chance of the audience emerging from your presentation with little or no idea what you’ve said.