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  • Writer's pictureWRW

Don't Be a Sperm Whale

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

The average sperm whale can hold its breath for 90 minutes. Luckily for executives sitting through an after-lunch meeting, the average hopped-up-on-slide-deck-adrenaline presenter can only make it without the necessary oxygen for about one and a half minutes.

Yesterday, I listened to an online meeting where the SME is doing a severe disservice for their product. They are currently at a "six-year-old at Disney for the first time" level of excitement and are losing the audience with the trifecta of thou shalt not's.

  1. Speaking too loud and inadvertently coming across as abrasive.

  2. Instant rebuttal to every topic, even if it’s not an accusatory question.

  3. Interrupting before the decision-maker has finished their thought.


Exuberance often leads to a disregard of conversational flow awareness.

Yes, you may have already correctly calculated the answer to the exec’s question after only hearing the first sentence. Yes, you may have great intentions towards efficiency and not wish to waste time trying to answer expeditiously. Yes, you may just be excited about the product.

People often see these as traits associated with know-it-alls, whose intentions removed, come across as demeaning to the other conversationalist and frequently rude.

Don’t be the presenter whose audience thinks you might just be part sperm whale. Please don't make them wait for you to take a breath for an opening to ask a question about your product.

Easy fix: Take a purposeful and extended breath and count to one when you breathe.

Are you hosting In-person and not virtual meetings? Send nonverbal cues that you possibly have something important to share. At a minimum, preface the entire discussion with an apology and acknowledgment of how excited you are about the presentation. Giving rise to the perfect post-meeting water cooler chat infusion that “you were probably just nervous" or “pumped about the topic” still much better than rude.

Are you interested in conversational flow awareness, non-verbal cues, or reading the room?

Have someone in your back pocket and contact us.

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