Public Speaking Tips: What Not To Say

Imagine you’ve got a speech coming up — a webinar, a pitch, a virtual summit, or — if you are really feeling masochistic — remember when we could be on stages in front of real people?

Either way — it’s you, your confidence, your ideas, and an audience you are trying to persuade. And really all public speaking is about persuasion. It’s about helping the audience see the world a certain way, so you can invite them to see it another way.

And while there is no formula for a compelling #mikedropmoment worthy speech, there are a few things you should avoid saying:

Public speaking tips

When will it get wet?

“This part might be a little dry.”
Whether in the bedroom or the boardroom, no one wants to hear this before things get started. It’s our job to figure out how to make it … ummm… not dry. Instead, start with a story, frame the dry parts based on what the audience wants and needs, or try to use a metaphor to help us see it in a different way.

Public speaking tips

What if they say “no?”

“Can I tell you a story?”
Unless you are giving the audience a chance to choose their own adventure and say “no, don’t tell us a story” — you are gonna be far more captivating if you just … ahem … start telling a story. A great way to transition: “which reminds me of this time when …” or “and that’s exactly what we learned back in 2015 when …”

Public speaking tips

Didn’t you design this deck?

“I know the bullet points are small.”
This is typically saved for those times you are in front of people in a board room or on stage, but I’ve even seen it on webinars lately. Maybe it even sounds like “I know you can’t see that graph” or “I know it’s hard to tell what this data is sharing.” It’s our job as speakers to curate the experience the audience is having with our information, data, and content. Instead, build your slides so they complement what you saying, put a new idea on each slide with large font, then summarize it at the end of that section with bullets. For data and graphs, quickly show us the big picture but then zoom in on what this means for us.

Public speaking tips

So should I look for the holes now?

“I didn’t have enough time to prepare.”
No quicker way to make your audience doubt your message then by telling them you didn’t have time to think it through yourself either. Instead, trust yourself, have confidence in your ability to speak on your topic, and make sure your argument has a logical flow that leads the audience to a decision about what to do or how to think differently.

Public speaking tips

Yay! I miss reading time from school.

“Let me just read this to you.”
Why not just send it in a PDF or eBook so I can read it myself? We are interested in your take on what’s happening. We want you to help us make sense of it. So do that instead of reading us your bullet points or slides. Instead, use questions on your slides or notes to help guide you.

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