Professional speakers under review: What works, what doesn't

6 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Reviewing my own speaking practices I decided to reflect on what has worked and what has failed for the many speakers I have heard.

What does not work:

Crawling on the floor to find a plug in for your lap top.

Remedy: This one should be easy to figure.

Giggling and saying “I am a techno awkwardite”,

Remedy: learn how to use your/the equipment or take someone with you who does, or ask the closest 18 year old at the function to assist you BEFORE you begin, and do not mention it from the podium, other than to thank him/her.

Giving the full history of the organization/meeting.

Remedy: If history is necessary keep it BRIEF!!! That is BRRIIIEEEFFFF!!!!

If it is not a political rally your giving me your political views, ridiculing a candidate, legislator, political figure, even ones I do not like, is a turn off.

Remedy: You got this one, right?

Acting like a doddery old woman.

Remedy: Realize it is NOT funny when you forget, or say you forget, when you act like you have dementia. No, I do not excuse you because of your age. You are paid a key note speaking fee, give what you were paid for. Unless you were paid for “cute” to address this professional group, don’t try to be ‘old cute’

Dis-allowing (did I just make up a word?) your education to support your content and delivery. This comes from being at a meeting where a woman was, rightly so, much applauded for her many earned degrees. She was originally a high school dropout and teen mom, now she holds many lofty positions. But her speech was appalling. If she was to be convicted for having an exceptional fund of knowledge and being skilled at using her own first language there was no evidence of either in that presentation.  

Telling stories about your life that may fascinate your best girl friends but bore your speakers (and your children btw). Recycling your old stories tells me you came to the podium unprepared.

Remedy: Prepare and retain focus on the topic you were advertised to be addressing.

Waiting until “they” come, even if “they” are late.

Remedy:  Start on time even if “they” are not seated because “we” are.

Dead baby stories.  

Remedy: Even if these stories increase your donations, they turn others away. It seems so manipulative.

My other pet peeves: Tapping or blowing into the microphone, adjusting your clothing, straps, hitching up pants, I need say no more. Canned jokes. Being noticeably tied to notes. Talking as if no one is listening. Waiting in the side room until you are 5 minutes late then running to the podium as if you had somewhere else than here, that was more important to be.

What works:

Respect for your audience’s intelligence.

Begin and end on time.  Be prepared with content that adds value to your audience, that addresses your given topic.

Being gracious to other speakers. Even when informing on those with counter opinions or findings to your own, do it pleasantly. Avoiding dragging the audience into your own personal squabble with your competitors.

 A genuine caring for, and interest in your audience. Connect with us, monitor us, if we are not with you change course.

Enthusiasm for the topic. Use current and credible research.

Humor used prudently, enough to keep us waiting for the next happy line.

You having fun too. Handouts of value.


Okay I have my plan. You? What you have seen not work, and work for speakers and audiences?

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