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VIEWPOINT: Speaking myths debunked

“Stage time is an invaluable opportunity to influence other people and to implement change.”

When it comes to speaking in public there are many myths that hold people back from speaking. In this article, let us debunk some of those common public speaking myths.

Myth 1 – Canned speeches are good

A canned speech is something that you would rehearse and practice – robotic style. So you would deliver the same speech, with the same body language at the same time of your talk – regardless of where you are delivering it.

There is a fine line between prepared and knowing the key principles to share with your audience to over-rehearsal and being unnatural on stage. Your audience will be quick to pick up the insincerity.

Myth 2 – You have to be perfect

Remember that with anything in life – it is not about being perfect, it is just about starting. If you are learning how to speak and are waiting for that one moment when you will be “perfect”, you may be waiting for a long time!

The best way to learn how to speak is to just get started and never turn down stage time. Any opportunity to speak is an opportunity to improve your skill. After your talk, reflect on what went well and highlight the top two things you are going to do differently next time.

Myth 3 – Know it all

Most people are unable to improve their speaking skills as they shut themselves off to feedback from others. When people provide them with advice, their response might be, “Thanks, I know that!”

Whilst I agree that we cannot please everyone, the rule is that if a majority of people is giving you the same feedback to improve – take note and listen – there is probably some merit in what is being said.

Myth 4 – I can “wing it”

As speakers we are professionals and not cowboys. So avoid the mentality of “winging a speech” because most likely something will go wrong due to lack of preparation. Stage time is an invaluable opportunity to influence other people and to implement change. Being unprepared is not only disrespectful to your audience, it is also a lost opportunity to fully engage and influence your audience. Practising your speech also ensures that you meet with your time allocation.

Myth 5 – Deliver a 50-page report in ten minutes

If you are going to attempt this, most likely you are going to overwhelm your audience with information. They are going to disengage from your talk and you will also run out of time. Better is to focus on the top 3–5 most important points from the report that you wish to highlight for the audience to take action on. ❐

Author: Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) is a business owner and public speaker trainer