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Successful Public Speakers Never Say These 7 Things

Successful Public Speakers Never Say These 7 Things

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?

Let’s start:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Which of these have you heard from a speaker before? How did you feel after hearing it?

Featured photo credit: sw_UNForumSeattle_cs8267.jpg/jppi via cdn.morguefile.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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