Five Absolutely True Quotes About Public Speaking

Five Absolutely True Quotes About Public Speaking

Five Absolutely True Quotes About Public Speaking

Public speaking has always been, and always will be, one of the most effective ways of building influence, persuading others, and improving your personal and professional lives.

Becoming a more effective speaker is a goal we should all aspire to.

Here are some pieces of wisdom from others who have walked the path that I have found to be absolutely true.

1.  They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Carl W. Buechner

Regardless of the whether the objective of your speech is to inspire, entertain, educate, persuade, or to simply inform, you won’t achieve it if you don’t create an emotional connection.

Remember, the best speeches you’ve ever heard weren’t made by professional speakers. They were made by your relatives and friends at weddings, funerals, birthdays and special occasions. They spoke from the heart and you loved them for it.

2. No one ever complains about a speech being too short. – Ira Hayes

Going over your allotted time is disrespectful to the organiser who has invited you to speak, the other speakers/performers whose stage time you steal, and ultimately your audience.

I’ve never heard anybody say “You know, I really wish that speaker went fifteen minutes over time so I could be late for the rest of the day.”

Time limits are there for a reason. Respect them.

3. Speakers who claim to be as cool as a cucumber are usually about as interesting as one. – Dale Carnegie

Most people who seek help with public speaking do so because of their lack of confidence. However the biggest problem with speaking is people who DON’T seek help because they don’t realise what they don’t know.

They are very pleased with their public speaking prowess but the audience is subject to a very different experience.

4. 90% of how the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform. – Somers White

I always advocate preparation and practise for an important presentation. Even for a more informal occasion such as a social event, you should at least give some thought to what you are going to say and have a basic outline in mind (or written down if you can’t rely on your memory).

With the exception of a gifted few, most of speakers I’ve seen try to ‘wing it’ have just ended up dribbling pointlessly and the ultimate message to the audience has been “I didn’t respect you enough to do any preparation for this.”

But there is one other important thing that comes before preparation and practice.

If you haven’t earned the right to speak about the topic through putting in some hard work to develop your knowledge and experience, you’re probably speaking BS and have no right to feel confident.

5. A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest. – Winston Churchill

I doubt that Winston would get away with saying that these days but the premise still holds true. You can create interest and buzz without exposing all your secrets or trying to account for every possible scenario.

While you might know some of the basic things your audience has in common, you can’t possibly know all of their individual situations.

So the idea is to serve the needs of the audience and give them just enough that they can go and adapt what you’ve said to their individual situation, or seek more information.

Got any more great tips? Feel free to get in touch and let me know.

David Wise

David Wise

Owner, Wise Words Communications

How To Avoid Crashing & Burning When Using Humour

How To Avoid Crashing & Burning When Using Humour

How To Avoid Crashing & Burning When Using Humour

So three public speakers walk into a bar right…

In my opinion the bravest speakers of all are stand-up comedians. They go out on stage usually armed with nothing but a microphone and their wit. No music. No props. No second chances. They are expected to be funny and if they aren’t, the audience is quick to let them know.

For the rest of us, while some humour can help make our speeches and presentations more entertaining and engaging, it’s not expected.

Hang on a minute! But we’ve all heard that humour is the best way to win over an audience, right?

A few months ago I was at a conference and the organisers had flown one of the speakers in from Canada for the occasion. During the first part of his presentation he made a joke about jet lag and coffee which under most circumstances would be a throw away line that would elicit a smile and a nod from most people.

However he made two mistakes with it.

Firstly he built the joke up to be a lot funnier than it actually was. Secondly, he broadcast his punchline as a bullet point on a PowerPoint slide for about five minutes before he actually delivered it (HINT: the unexpected element is kind of important when it comes to humour).

When he finally got to the punchline, it was clear from his own actions that he was expecting a significant reaction from the audience. What he got was silence and it was obvious for the next ten minutes or so that he was completely rattled and you could feel the audience was uncomfortable as a result of watching him climb from the wreckage.

Yes, humour can help, but there’s always the risk that your audience won’t appreciate the joke. If you are already nervous, that’s not exactly going to make things easier.

Play To Your Strengths Rather Than Trying Too Hard

We all have certain strengths and weaknesses when it comes to humour. The first step is knowing what they are rather than trying too hard to be funny.

For example, I rarely ever tell pre-prepared jokes because I’m simply not a joke teller – I’ve figured that out the hard way having crashed and burned a couple of times myself. On the other hand I am fortunate that I can often see a situation and make a wry observation, deliver a mildly amusing one-liner, or recount a short anecdote that I’m reminded of.

So rather than try to stage something, I stay alert and look for those opportunities to do something ‘off-the-cuff’ because that suits my style.

What if I can’t do ‘off-the-cuff’ humour? Shouldn’t I still have some jokes up my sleeve?

I’m sure at some point most of us would have been to a wedding where ‘Uncle Bob’ has been appointed as MC and he has taken the opportunity to unleash his full repertoire of tired mother-in-law jokes that have left guests squirming in their seats.

In reality, simply being positive and enthusiastic is often all you need to do. A good mood is infectious and will soon spread throughout the room.

Apart from that, you can always tell an interesting story or express something heartfelt. These things are appreciated by people just as much as humour and are usually far less risky.

If doing a business presentation, making sure your content is actually interesting and relevant should be your first concern before you even start thinking about what jokes you’ll use.

The best advice I can offer is to know yourself and know your audience. If anything you are thinking of doing feels like it might be uncomfortable for either, leave it out.      

David Wise

David Wise

Owner, Wise Words Communications