There have been many well-meaning people who offer terrible public speaking advice in the same fashion as people who suggest putting butter on burns. Here are some of the most egregious ones:
- Look at the foreheads of your audience or look at the clock in the back of the room.
This is not going to fool anyone. The only things they will be thinking is, “why is she looking at my forehead,” or “what’s
so interesting in the back?”
2. Imagine your audience is naked.
Even Ron Hoff who wrote “I Can See You Naked” said in his own book that this is a bad idea. He used the phrase as a
gimmick to sell his book. This was borne out of a silly idea that if you can envision your audience being naked, they will
be more vulnerable than you feel. How can anyone possibly concentrate on what to say if you’re pretending they’re
3. Start off by telling a joke.
This is a common mistake of the best man who embarrasses himself, the bride and groom at the wedding when he’s
offering a tasteless joke toasting the couple. The only way you can make it worse is reading the joke from folded lined
paper. It’s even harder to overcome if you’re roaring with fake laughter while your audience isn't roaring with you.
Unless you have the talent and timing of a Bill Maher or Jimmy Fallon, forget it, especially if you don’t know your
4. Take a snort before you get up there.
I have heard where this worked in one instance. The man said he slurred his presentation all the way through but
nobody minded—because they too were three sheets to the wind. For all the sober audiences, getting pie-eyed will not
work for them or you. It might increase your courage but it will reduce your alertness and motor function. Ultimately,
it will make a bad impression.
5. Memorize your presentation.
One time we had a guide on a visit to the battlefield at Gettysburg. I interrupted to ask him a question, which he
answered, but he followed it by asking me not to ask any more questions. He then began to repeat the last few
sentences of what he had just said including the joke he already told us including the supposedly funny remark! We had
become a casualty of the Civil War--death by presentation! Someone or something can easily interrupt your
memorized speech. Your audience will soon tune out as we did with our guide, especially since he had to repeat or start