A few days ago, I posted Three Misconceptions That Sink Presentations. We could go on and on, but right now, here are three more.

Good speakers don’t use notes

Speakers use notes all the time. They just aren’t addicted to their notes. They use their notes as notes, the way you would use a grocery list–refer to it quickly and move on. While it’s true you see a lot of speaker who appear not to use notes, it’s not because they are good speakers–it’s because they are so familiar with their content. One of the most effective professionals I know says he has only four speeches. He has given each dozens or even hundreds of times. I have heard him on different occasions, and he’s not giving a canned speech. Each speech is unique to the audience and situation, but at the same time, it’s one of the four speeches. When you talk about something that is as close to you as your breathing, the question of “is it memorized? is he using notes?” becomes nonsense.

“Out loud” is mainly about passing on info

Information matters. But there are cheaper and easier ways to pass on information–photocopying, for instance, or posting on a web page, or sending email. The main reason people come together to listen to you talk is the unique perspective you bring to the topic and the occasion–the connection with the audience, not just the information. One of my friends and colleagues talks about the importance of the concept of curation: the selection of information, the arrangement, the commentary, the impact. Make sure your facts are well-researched, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re just trying to save paper.

This won’t take long

They say Great Minds Think Alike. Ellen Bremen mentioned this one in response to the last post, and I had this one ready to go (see her comment on the last post). I commented that not-so-great minds think alike also. Students make this assumption all the time.

I mean no insult to either my students or hers. The thing is, I think they believe this because on a certain level you really can get away without spending a lot of time in preparation. If you are content to be mediocre, if you don’t much care about your effect on your audience, if you don’t care about your topic–you don’t have to spend much time in preparation. Go ahead, wing it. You will waste your time and your audience’s, though.

Want to have an easy time giving the speech? Spend the time in preparation. The more time you spend getting familiar with your material (not memorizing it!), the more comfortable you will be in front of the audience.

What concept have you discovered you mistakenly held about speaking?

Photo Credit: Cam Switzer cc

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