The Danger of Public Speaking “Tips”

In many professions, almost every person above a certain level has had some kind of public speaking or presentation skills training. Maybe they have their own coach, or perhaps they attended a one-day workshop, but they walked away with some idea of what they could apply to be a more effective speaker.

So far so good.

This gets complicated when the advice or prescription given to one person within the context of a larger training is passed along to others. What was delivered with nuance to a specific participant is, over time, boiled down to a “tip” that may do more harm than good.

This is like going to the doctor with a specific complaint, getting a diagnosis, then heading out into the world to apply this newfound knowledge to others’ symptoms. Bad idea.

If you’re on the receiving end of this kind of public speaking advice, take it with a few grains of salt. Try to get some context for the suggestion: is this their go-to advice to everyone? Can you tell from the way they say it that they got this advice from someone else? Does it reflect a (in my opinion, somewhat limited) focus on things like filler words or gestures? What kind of investment does this person have in you and your development?

There are very, very few “tips” that can be universally applied. If someone gives you one, you get to decide whether it’s for you, or whether that’s medicine for someone else.

Fakery and Facebookery

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