Professional public speaking isn’t for everyone. The nonstop travel and constant meticulous creative fine-tuning can leave even seasoned lecturers wondering what dissuaded them from a less exhaustive career path. They could have taken it easy and become attorneys or neurosurgeons. Instead, they set out to walk onstage alone night after night to enthusiastically address and inform crowds of strangers willing to part with hard-earned money and precious time in exchange for a singularly inspiring learning experience.
Let us suppose that you explore the paid speaking circuit and decide that the life-consuming preparation that accompanies your performance just isn’t paying the dividends you had hoped it might. You want nothing more than to leave the grind behind with no regrets, follow your mother’s advice and tame lions for a living for the rest of your days. One problem: you find decisively quitting utterly humiliating. Instead, the prospect of burning out rather than fading away inflames you with a passion for a spectacle that doesn’t so much “leave them wanting more” as wondering what exactly they just witnessed.
After all, if you perform memorably poorly enough the first time someone asks you to do something, there’s a strong chance that’s one more individual who won’t ask you to do it again.
If you could live a fulfilled, happy remainder of your life without addressing a large assemblage of people all at once on command, follow this guide to the letter. Without fail, your lecture invitations will evaporate faster than spit on a hot sidewalk.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE – For the love of Zig Ziglar, do not take this list seriously. The aim is simply to have a little fun by extending common public speaking mistakes to their most egregious conclusions.)
Make Sure You Have A Poor Opening
By the time you finish your talk, will anybody really care how you started it? Think of all the accomplished and in-demand speakers who carefully craft a “grabber” that seizes any audience’s attention immediately with a personally meaningful story, thought-provoking expert quotation or jarring relevant statistics. The last thing you want to do is waste time you could spend getting to the meat of your material. Your audience’s time is sacrosanct. No need to demonstrate your deeply rooted commitment to your subject at hand. Instead, consider starting with a dirty limerick.
Actually, scratch that. It might clash with the next order of delivering the worst-prepared talk you can.
Don’t Ever Inject Humor, Never Make Your Audience Laugh
You have come with serious business in mind. Nothing will convince a crowd that you haven’t treated this critical matter with its due gravity quite like keeping the mood of the room light with jokes. Set the atmosphere of a wake, not a comedy club. If your attendees were in a jocular mood, plenty of comedy clubs would surely give them their two-drink-minimum worth of chuckles. Humor is not engaging. Rather, it is the surest way to erode their sense of gravitas and distract entirely from everything you actually want them to remember.
Preparation Is For The Weak. Just Wing It & Never Rehearse.
Come on, now. If you really knew what you were talking about, would you need to spend hours on end researching, preparing note cards, practicing your speech repeatedly in front of a mirror, convincing your friends and peers to listen to it another hundred times, and timing it incessantly? You either know this stuff or you don’t. Get out there and improvise. You are guaranteed a reputation if you can guarantee that no two talks are exactly alike.
Never Pause Or Take Breaths. Speak In Long Continuous Sentences
Mercy is for the weak. So is punctuation. Never coddle your audiences by pacing your speech with strategically placed breaths and pauses that allow your words to settle upon their thoughts. The world is always on the march and the strong-minded can keep up with a breakneck pace without ever missing a beat. A nonstop projectile eruption of words from the instant you step on stage will determine who can absorb vital information effectively on the fly and which wimps are too undeservingly slow-witted to deserve your wisdom.
Keep Low Energy, Speak In Monotone, Boring Language
Of course, there’s an alternate school of thought: learning and entertainment have never been natural bedfellows. In lieu of wearing your audience down with a frenetic onslaught of language, proceed at a glacial grind with unremarkable language delivered as flatly as possible. Hey, they’re in their seats. This is your time. Why hurry?
Never Make Eye Contact With Your Audience – Instead, Dart Your Eyes Or Look At The Ground And Sky Often
Your audience doesn’t want a rapport with you. They didn’t settle in for your talk expecting a new best friend. Making ample eye-contact throughout your talk will either come across as creepy or possibly engage your attendees’ ability to sense your fear. Instead, take a cue from one of humanity’s evolutionary counterparts, the gorilla: do not look individual audience members in the eye; they will take it as a challenge to their dominance and assume you want a fight. Show respect by deferentially darting your eyes and looking at the ground or upward as often as possible.
Don’t Tailor Your Speech To Your Audience – People Hate Relevance
What qualities do people find that others take most for granted? Efficiency and dependability. That’s why every major city around the world has a McDonald’s on every other street corner. That established standard of quality replicated swiftly beyond borders and offers a valued comfort in reliable, familiar expectations. Trust that your audience will appreciate that you appreciated prudent time management too much to craft an entire speech suited to their specific interests. You no doubt wisely chose to get more done by easily replicating an existing talk instead of making each engagement unique. You don’t work hard. You work smart.
Apologize Often For Doing Everything Everything Above
Remember, your objective is to never be invited to address a large audience ever again. Never take for granted that attendees noticed your shortcomings. Rather than emphasizing your natural poise, apologize profusely and call attention to your every shortcoming. Leave no ugly stone unturned.
Did you get all of that? Good. The world has plenty of speakers with passionate commitments to educating, engaging and informing eager audiences on an intimate level. Every so often, people need a good trainwreck.
It doesn’t have to be you, though.
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