It takes a lot of guts and an unbelievable desire to pursue your passion to be a successful public speaker. You have to be comfortable enough to be in your “zone”; but you also have to be competent enough to illustrate your confidence and expertise on the topic you’re talking about.
As with all things, successful public speakers aren’t born–they’re made from scratch, beaten up verbally, mocked endlessly and criticized harshly until they’re shaped appropriately.
Now, let’s take an innovative approach to public speaking training. Instead of outlining the phrases that you should say, I’m going to tell you the phrases that you should avoid. After all, it’s easier to remember the things that you should avoid, don’t you think so?
1. “Oh, I apologize for that.”
If you’ve already moved over to the next slide and a participant tells you to go back because they haven’t really understood it, don’t say, “I’m sorry!” Instead, smile and say, “It’ll be my pleasure to discuss this with you.”
When you’re invited to be a guest speaker, the organizer values you and trusts your authority on the topic. As a result, these attendees believe you’re the expert in the matter. You should exude an aura of confidence. Saying you’re sorry is only acceptable if you’ve offended anyone. Otherwise, don’t say it. It makes you seem apologetic and insecure. Who says they’re sorry when they haven’t really done anything wrong?
2. “My voice is soft today because I’m exhausted.”
You’re human. All of the attendees know that you’re not a robot, so, of course you’re prone to over-fatigue and illness. But remember, all of these participants are also humans who are equally susceptible. They paid with their time and money in order to listen to an expert who is at the top of his game, so you’re still expected to go on with the show.
You’re free to whine and mope around in bed after your speech. But, before that, don’t complain while talking about your topic–it gives off a negative energy that you may pass on to your audience.
3. “I’m not sure about that.”
If you’re not sure about something, why are you presenting it in the first place? To spread confusion? To make your audience doubt your credibility? When in doubt, don’t mention it anymore. Let’s face it: if you were planning on presenting a certain statement, you should have exerted an effort to confirm its validity.
If someone asks a question about something that you’re not familiar with, don’t give a half-hearted answer and then say that you’re not sure. Instead you should say, “That’s a good question that warrants an even better answer. So, if we could exchange contacts later, I’d love to get back to you on this after I do some extensive research on this matter.”
4. “Let’s not go back anymore.”
Your aim is to make the audience understand the subject matter. If they don’t comprehend and they want to go back, it’s your responsibility to explain it to them. Respect their time, but also respect their willingness to learn.
5. “I’ll make this fast.”
Successful public speakers are known to take their time in encouraging their listeners to ask questions. They are really interested in the process of learning and teaching, and they don’t think of their seminars as marathons. Instead, they are similar to walks in the park or jogging leisurely around the neighborhood.
Learning is a process that requires patience. If you’re speaking about something, don’t just focus on being heard–focus on being understood.
6. “You weren’t listening, were you?”
You’re not a babysitter to a bunch of toddlers. Saying this in public is tantamount to accusing them of misbehaving.
You are a professional public speaker who has been invited to talk to colleagues. You need to give them the same respect that you want to get from them.
7. “I’m a pile of nerves right now.”
We all know that public speaking makes some people nervous, but announcing it to the public is just re-affirming that fact. In fact, if you constantly repeat this, your audience may doubt you and feel like you are not experienced enough. They may not pay attention to you anymore. Don’t say you’re nervous, as it may also freak you out and knock you out of your game. Instead, say, “I’m so excited to be here. We’re all going to learn from each other,” and smile genuinely.
Which of these have you heard from a speaker before? How did you feel after hearing it?
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