An Interview with the Best Bad Presenter

An Interview with the Best Bad Presenter

By Michelle Drucker , Jul 13th 2014

Karen HoughA Preview of Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever: Break the Rules, Make Mistakes, and Win Them Over by Karen Hough, CEO of ImprovEdge and Author

A Yale University graduate (’89), ImprovEdge CEO Karen Hough trained with Chicago’s Second City as a young adult and achieved a vibrant career in stage, film and television. It was after beginning her business career that Hough noticed the overlap between the skills that she learned as an actress and the skills that she utilized in her professional life. Her company, ImprovEdge, has now been using improvisation as an engaging learning tool for more than 14 years. Hough is releasing her second book, Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever: Break the Rules, Make Mistakes and Win Them Over.

Tell us a bit about what we can expect to learn from you newest book, Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever: Break the Rules, Make Mistakes, and Win Them Over.

You are a great presenter! After coaching over 1,000 presenters—and being a professional presenter myself—I see that it’s outdated advice that makes us stiff and uncomfortable. So this book is about finding your authentic self and presenting with passion.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I wrote this book to debunk more than a dozen myths about presenting to make it more fun and natural for anybody. And, in business, giving presentations is an important skill to master because it’s linked to personal brand and executive presence—part of why people get promoted, win deals and move up. Here’s a video explaining more:

Your book has a rubber chicken on the cover. What does that symbolize?

To choose my book covers, I send surveys out to my community— friends, family, colleagues, workshop participants, clients—and the results are astonishing. The cover with the rubber chicken was a landslide winner that I never expected, which is just like improv! People said that the chicken made them laugh and take a second look at the book. Others said that they feel like a chicken before presentations, so recognizing that was powerful. More than anything, it’s about loosening up, enjoying yourself and being yourself, even if you’re chicken.

Why do you think presenting is so challenging for people in professional settings?

One reason public speaking is such a nightmare for so many people is that they think they have to be “perfect” by trying to conform to all sorts of handed-down rules. Authenticity and passion win people over, not polish. It’s why people trust blogs more than commercials and user reviews more than ads.


Karen Hough is the founder and CEO of ImprovEdge, a company that creates learning experiences, training, and consulting to teach business skills. Her book Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever is available on in bulk quantities of 25 or more.

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