Three misconceptions that sink presentations

sinking

Lots of people speak these days. TED.com has sparked a revival of interest in both giving and hearing speeches. And while most TED speakers provide a good model, plenty of misconceptions still float around about speaking.

Here are three.

Talking is easy

In fact, for some people the simple act of talking is anything but easy. But let’s grant that most of us learn to do it pretty well by age two. Still, as Mitch Joel says, “Some of the best entrepreneurs and businesspeople with the most amazing success stories can be great communicators but terrible presenters.” Speaking from the platform just involves a lot more than simply talking.

I just suffer from stage fright–nothing I can do

In the first place, it’s not really stage fright. For some, it’s fear of the unknown, which means it will get better as you get used to the situation of speaking. For all, it’s not a situation that exists independently of your own thinking, as something that is “out there.” What you’re labeling “stage fright” is really just adrenaline. It’s energy. Whether it’s something you want to keep (“I’m really up for this speech!”) or get rid of (“I’m really nervous about this speech!”) depends on how you look at it. You can change that, and change the way you handle it.

Good preparation means getting the words just right

If you’re the president of the United States and every nuance of every word you say is going to get analyzed into tiny shards, then maybe. Otherwise, take comfort in this: the audience is going to forget 90 percent of what you say within a few days. They will remember the impression you leave with them, though. Speaking isn’t about getting the words right; it’s about giving the words impact.

What concept have you discovered you mistakenly held about speaking?

Photo Credit: Cam Switzer cc

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.