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Don't Fall for the Myths of Public Speaking

There are hundreds of myths surrounding public speaking. Don't fall for them. Here are a just few:

  1. You are either born with the talent or not - good public speakers are just born that way. WRONG. Great public speakers work hard at their craft, using their natural advantages to develop their strengths and learn the art of speaking and communicating well. Great public speakers keep developing throughout their lifetime.

  2. You need a teleprompter in order to get things word-perfect and deliver to the script. WRONG. The worst public speakers just parrot prepared scripts. They don't adapt to the moment and they all look and sound fake after you become familiar with their cadences and delivery. Yes, that applies to the likes of Barack Obama and others touted as great speakers. Public speakers should be able to adapt to the audience - whether large or small - and deliver great communication consistently.

  3. You need to spend 40 hours to prepare for every 10 minutes of speaking. WRONG. You should be able to speak both prepared speeches and impromptu speeches - responses derived instantaneously in the moment - if you are talking about things you understand and have expertise in.

  4. You need to look like a model to be a great public speaker. WRONG. Some of the world's greatest public speakers have been disfigured by accidents. It's the content that matters. Sometimes your looks can be an asset, but it can also become an obstacle when people think you're pretty but the words that come out of your mouth indicate that you're probably not so smart.

  5. I can just learn by myself. WRONG. The art and science of public speaking has been studied and developed over hundreds, even thousands, of years. Thinking you can just rely on your own resources is like becoming a doctor by just developing a system by yourself. It's foolish not to seek teaching, coaching and mentoring from others who have themselves trod the path and have learnt how to teach and help others to grow as speakers as well.

Here's one last Myth to bust for this post:

I should look and sound just like someone well-known as a speaker if I want to be taken seriously. WRONG. You want to hear from different people in life. So does your audience - small and large. You need to come across as authentic to be credible, which means you need to develop presence, style and delivery that works from who you are, not who someone else is.

Great speakers are made, not born. Learn how.

(c) 2021 Peter J. McLean

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