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4 Terrible Pieces of Advice for Public Speakers


Seems like everyone out there has a piece of advice when you’re doing something as scary as speaking in front of a group. Instead of listening to your Aunt Mildred’s terrible advice, try to keep in mind what you definitely shouldn’t do when you’re giving a presentation.


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1. Imagine the Audience Naked (or in Their Underwear)

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Even if you’re not speaking to an audience of your peers, you still don’t want to start mentally undressing others, especially when the moment calls for focus and professionalism. Geez, some of those executives are your parents’ age. Nope nope nope.

2. Calm Down

You don’t need to tell yourself to be calm. You do want to psych yourself up and get that adrenaline running to your brain (and slowly cooling hands holding notes). One article on the subject talks about your “mantra of enthusiasm” and it’s not a bad idea to think to yourself why your presentation is important and what you hope to accomplish with it. If you need that sweet mixtape to get you going, then go for it!

3. Try to Be Funny

If comedy isn’t your thing, or really isn’t appropriate for your environment (that speech to flood victims isn’t the right time to try out your new zinger), then skip the joke advice. You don’t have to be funny, and chances are if you think you’re trying to hard, your audience will be all too aware that you’re trying (and not succeeding). Don’t feel like you have to entertain, when you’re really there to inform.

4. Admit How Unprepared You Are

Inside you’re a quivering, vomiting, hungover wretch. But that’s where that info should stay. Even though you might feel like you should get it all out on the table, you’d be surprised how bad that can go for you. You’d also be surprised at what people simply won’t notice. You might feel like hot garbage on the inside, but your audience only sees “Betty.” Even if you’re trying to talk off-the-cuff about something you should have spent hours preparing, just go with it! Never let them see behind your curtain, and you might just get away with it. Admit you’re unprepared, and you’ll just be labeled a doofus.

Tell Us What You Think

What bad public speaking advice have you heard? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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