Stink at public speaking? Control the message.

Stink at public speaking? Control the message.

Public speaking is tough. Everyone benefits from practice, of course. And media training can make a world of difference. But some people just aren’t cut out for the spotlight.

Case in point: Rikk Wilde, a regional zone manager for Chevrolet. After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, Wilde was tasked with presenting Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner with a Chevy truck. The presentation was painfully awkward.

Across Twitter and Facebook, Wilde’s performance went viral. The hashtag #technologyandstuff quickly trended. Chevy even jumped in. As the Detroit News detailed:

*  Chevrolet has been in the social media game with its own @ChevyTrucks account, tweeting a link to the Chevy Colorado website: “Truck yeah the 2015 #ChevyColorado has awesome #TechnologyAndStuff! You know you want a truck.” Later Thursday, it released to media videos of the Colorado with the headline ” ‘You Know You Want a Truck’ with Technology and Stuff.”

*  GM’s head of global product development, Mark Reuss, also put his support behind Wilde and the Colorado, tweeting Thursday, “It’s what I’ve been saying for years. … #technologyandstuff.”

This was a smart move on Chevy’s part. By acknowledging the humor, they were able to take part in a global conversation about their brand.

Wilde’s performance turned into a PR coup. But obviously, Chevy never could have planned that. So the company shouldn’t have sent Wilde on stage.

So keep Wilde’s performance in mind if a principal at your organization ever admits that he’s terrified of — and terrible at — public speaking. If your spokesperson is uncomfortable in front of large groups, he might also be uncomfortable speaking with reporters. Instead, look for an avenue where you can control the entire message, like an op-ed.


David White