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6 Public Speaking Myths That Are Dumb

        posted by , December 16, 2012

Public speaking is more art than science.

It's difficult to define what it means to be a great public speaker. There's no formula for compelling presentations.

For example, visuals generally add value to a presentation. However, many mediocre public speakers over-focus on slides while some renown speakers never use visuals.

Presentation skills may defy definition but this doesn't stop people from trying. The following 6 myths are amongst the most common public speaking misperceptions.

1. Introverts aren't good public speakers

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
~ Dr. Seuss
Introverts carefully consider their speech and prefer to speak when they have something valuable to say. They are fully capable of becoming skilled public speakers. Examples of introverts who were good in front of a crowd include Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Al Gore and Albert Einstein.

2. You need to be a natural talent to be good at public speaking

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
~ Calvin Coolidge
You need to train, prepare and gain experience to master public speaking. It's not a natural born talent.

3. End your presentation with questions

When you hit that high note, say goodnight and walk off.
~ Jerry Seinfeld
What could be more anti-climatic than a great presentation that ends with a question period?

Questions can be off topic. Worse, you might not get any questions at all.

It's a basic rule of showmanship — go out on a high note. End by driving home the theme of your presentation in a thought provoking way.

4. A good speaker can sell any message

What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it.
~ David Ogilvy
The content of your message is just as important as your presentation skills. If your message isn't believable or relevant to your audience your presentation won't be successful.

5. Attire is important

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
~ Mark Twain
Conventional public speaking advice is full of nuggets of useless advice. For example, it's common to stress the importance of proper attire.

If only public speaking were that simple.

Depending upon where you're speaking you may need to meet certain professional standards. However, a great public speaker can wow audiences in his or her bathrobe.

Formal clothing can influence your confidence. However, dressing down can also be a show of confidence. It's a statement that it's your message that matters.

6. People who are fearful of public speaking aren't good at it

Most people are fearful of public speaking. It's a extremely common fear.

Mastering public speaking is about managing your fear, not eliminating it. Believe it or not, fear of public speaking can actually improve your presentation skills.

This is the 4th installment in the 9-part series of posts called How to Give Magnetic Presentations.

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