In working with countless people looking to improve their communication skills, I’m always amazed at some of the completely untrue beliefs that dominate the area of public speaking. The following are the top five myths that need to die ASAP.
Myth # 1 I Can’t Speak, I’m an Introvert
During my Personal Branding workshop, one of the major points we cover about positioning ourselves as industry experts is speaking. Just about every time, someone will tell me, that can’t do it because they’re too introverted. Here’s the truth: introverts make the best speakers.One of the hallmarks of introversion is an increased amount of empathy and when that empathy is properly channeled, introverts can make a much stronger connection with their audience.
Myth # 2 Great Speakers Are Born
This fits hand in glove with is Myth #1. Public Speaking isn’t a natural act. It isn’t something that even the best come out of the womb ready to do. It’s true that some people are born with better tools than others, but learning the skills of using those tools takes instruction and practice. Great speakers aren’t born, they’re made.
Myth # 3 I Don’t Want To Sound Rehearsed, I’ll Just Wing It
Stiff and robotic speaker are boring, of this, there is no doubt. Do you what’s worse, though? Someone who wastes their audience’s time by not being prepared. There is a real difference between tightly scripting the movements and words of presentation and being prepared. I coach my clients to script their opening and know how they will capture the attention of their audience and script their close so that they know the exact words they will leave their audience with and then know their points and the stories that back it up. This kind of plan will keep the speaker on message but still sounding fresh. Winging it is a recipe for disaster.
Myth # 4 My Slides Are Presentation, I Just Have To Narrate
PowerPoint and programs like it are a tool, they aren’t a crutch. Too many of my clients come to me with the belief that preparing means creating their slides. It’s like trying to chop down a tree with a hammer; it can be done, but it’s much more effective to use an ax. Slide presentations can enhance a presentation, but they can’t make one. I’m still looking for a law making it illegal to read slides to the audience. It’s just-just boring, it’s insulting. You are the message, your slides are just window dressing.
Myth # 5 The Audience Is Expecting Perfection and if I’m Not Perfect, They’ll Hate Me.
This myth is a big reason why speakers fear their audience. They’ve somehow convinced themselves that the audience is expecting perfection and will accept nothing less. The truth is, your audience doesn’t expect perfection, it just expects authenticity. They want you to be you and add value. This means you’re going to stumble. You’re going to miss a word here and there, all of this is expected and acceptable. Your audience wants you to do your best and give them value. What they won’t accept is someone that wastes their time or is obviously fake. If you show up prepared, be yourself and add value, your audience will love you.
These myths are the proverbial tip of the iceberg, but they are to me the most glaring ones. If I’ve missed one, please leave a comment and remind me.
Also, if you struggle with your preparation, check back Monday as I will be releasing my Presentation Preparation Cheat Sheet. It’s the tool I always use to prepare for a presentation and I’m sure you will find it helpful.