Don’t Follow Bad Advice

This seems obvious. When someone gives you bad advice, just…don’t do it. Ignore it.

The problem comes when you can’t identify the advice as being bad. You’re not an expert in the topic, and whatever you’ve been told seems reasonable. 

How can we protect ourselves from the bad advice when we can’t tell it’s bad?

In most areas, I’m not going to be much help in helping you differentiate. The times when I’ve taken bad advice (and lived to regret it) are many and various. But when we’re talking about public speaking and presentation skills, let me share this.

If someone advises you to change a behavior without connecting it to an outcome for the audience, ask why.

If someone advises you to do or say something that you have a strong negative response to, ask them to adjust it.

If someone’s advice seems focused on showmanship at the expense of genuine connection, ask them for some deeper insight.

On the other hand, good advice might look like:

Questions about what you hope to achieve with your talk or presentation

Observations and enthusiasm about what you’re already doing well

Generous insight into your communication style as a whole, rather than “checklist” coaching of body language 

Specific, outcome-based feedback you can put into action

I can’t tell you how to avoid bad advice about financial planning, electrical wiring, or traffic tickets.

But public speaking? I got you.

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