There are several misconceptions about public speaking that I hear all the time. Here are the top five:

1. Good public speakers are born

This is like saying “If you weren’t born being able to ride a bike you shouldn’t waste your time ‘cause you’ll never learn.”

Yes, there are some people that will find they have natural ability that they can capitalise on. Some may be more extroverted, some find it easier to think on their feet – but these are all skills that can be shared, taught and learnt. Many great orators such as Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill and Warren Buffet were terrible public speakers when they first started.  Carmine Gallo author of ‘Presentation secrets of Steve Jobs’ said that when Jobs first presented in 1984 he was stiff, grasped the lectern and read from his notes. Gallo goes on to say that when Churchill gave his first speech in the House of Commons as a 29 year old, he froze for a full three minutes. Warren Buffet suffered terribly from nerves until he realised he would never reach his full potential and enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course.

To improve all it takes is confidence, action and a good presentation skills workshop doesn’t hurt!

2. You MUST use PowerPoint

Really? Why?

PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote and the like have become the default point for starting your presentation. I have written before about the dangers of relying on the screen to persuade and influence. Here’s an idea: Passionate people persuade, not PowerPoint. PowerPoint can be valuable for showing. If you are using it to show photos, videos, diagrams and graphs; Great! It you’re using it as a teleprompter, or as a handout, you better rethink if you need it.  Have a look at the speakers featured on – very few use it, and those that do, use it sparingly.

3. There is only one way to be a good public speaker

Think about some of the famous singers you’ve heard: Beyonce, Adel, Sia, Elvis, Elton, Jimmy Barnes.  What do they have in common? They can all hold a note, they all entertain and they are all hugely successful.  And yet, they are all different.  It’s the same with public speaking – there is no one way to be a persuasive and engaging speaker. It’s up to you to find your own way to communicate, and you don’t have to be an extrovert.  A good presentations skills coach will help you uncover your unique style, and then all you need is a little amplification.

4. It’s a boring topic, there’s nothing I can do about it

Oh yes there is!  It’s your job to take that boring topic and breathe some life into it. Here are some ideas:

  • Use a case study
  • Create a metaphor to explain it
  • Include a personal story that relates to your topic
  • Increase interaction – get the audience to discuss and problem solve.
  • Don’t lecture!

A presentation does not need to be a once way communication with bullet points – get creative, think about how people like to learn and get them involved.

5. Everyone HATES public speaking

Erm…. I kind of like it!

I think we have all been seduced by the whole “People fear public speaking more than death!” malarkey.

Ask yourself this:

  • Do you like talking to people?
  • Do you like explaining things?
  • Do you like helping people?

Well, then you like public speaking! You just need to flip the tape, have a plan and do a bit of practise.  If you want to fast track your development and become the best speaker you can be, come along to my Stand up, Speak up and Persuade workshop on June 29th. You can find a registration form here. The right coaching can make all the difference.

For more public speaking tips and tricks, have a look at my blog and if you need more help, shoot me a question, I’d love to hear from you!

Sharon Ferrier
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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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