15 Public Speaking Myths Debunked

Imagine your audience in their underwear

Great speakers are funny and entertaining

Great speakers are born orators

Public speaking is feared more than death. And something that’s so feared is also abound with myths. We hear so many different things about how to become successful in public speaking. And we hold on to each like a lucky charm! But if we separate the wheat from the chaff, there are simple things you need to do – consistently – to get better at public speaking. Not assume everything we hear about public speaking success to be true.

Here is a short video on the same topic

Public Speaking Myth #1: Great speakers are born orators

Nope! No one is a born with the skills to succeed in life – only the ones needed to survive. So many famous orators that we know of weren’t born orators either. Being a good speaker takes consistently effort.

And if you put that in, you’ll be a great orator too. although, as long as you can speak confidently in public, that should suffice your everyday needs. One doesn’t really have to be an orator like Martin Luther King!

Public Speaking Myth #2 : Introverts can’t be great at public speaking

Being an introvert has nothing to do the kind of speaker you can be. In fact, introverts actually make better speakers because of the extra effort they put in.

Susan Cain, the founder of The Quiet Revolution is an introvert. But her TED talk on the power of introversion has a few million views. She was terrified at the prospect of public speaking but there is nothing you can’t conquer with consistent practice like she did.

And so can you!

Public Speaking Myth #3: I am not funny

You don’t have to be! As long as you can engage the audience and keep them interested, you’ll do okay.

If you want to be a funny speaker, you should work on your funny bones and practice it. Jokes, if not told in the right way, can fall flat. So practice them with smaller groups in general conversations first.

READ: 6 ways to develop a killer sense of humour

Public Speaking Myth #4: I don’t know any big words

You don’t need big words to sound intelligent. In fact, the simpler your language, the better your connect with the audience. Using big words which lose you your listeners don’t serve any purpose in a speech.

Public Speaking Myth #5: I need to memorise the whole speech

No, you don’t! Although speaking events like TED talks need the speakers to memorise and rehearse their speech several times, that isn’t a norm.

For office presentations and meetings, just knowing your points well should be enough. You c

an practice what you are going to say to elaborate every point, but learning it verbatim isn’t necessary.

Public Speaking Myth #6: I’ll get on stage and forget everything

That’s a possibility! But you’ll be surprised to know that the audience is actually rooting for you! They want you to succeed. And they will be nothing but supportive even if you forget your points.

Always carry a short summary of just the points. If you forget, you can always look at this cue card and continue.

There are many different ways to deal with such a situation and it is not the end of the world. You could take a pause to recall what you forgot. You could drink water while you do that. You could ask the audience a question instead of saying you forgot your point.

Public Speaking Myth #7: You should speak in the mirror to practice

Let me tell you a story. You are sitting in an art class and drawing a sketch. Your teacher stands behind you looking over your work. Are you likely to make mistakes in such a scenario? Very likely!

And why is that?

When we know we are being evaluated, we are more likely to make mistakes.

When you look in the mirror and practice speaking, you are also constantly evaluating yourself – your voice, your expressions, your body language. And this is going to be very distracting.

You never see yourself on the stage, the audience does. So looking at yourself in the mirror will only distract you from becoming better.

PRO-TIP: If you want to monitor yourself, set your phone camera where it won’t distract you and record yourself.

Don’t mind the recording and try to be spontaneous. you can later watch the video to see how it all worked out.

This is a much better method of self monitoring which will help you get better.

Public Speaking Myth #8: Imagine the audience in their underwear

Nope! Please don’t do that! It’s hard enough to face people staring expectantly at you.

Trying to imagine what they’d look like sans clothes is a distraction you don’t want to deal with. So strike off that myth and move on. There are other ways to beat public speaking apprehension.

READ: 3 ways to overcome fear of public speaking

Public Speaking Myth #9: No one wants to listen to me!

You wouldn’t know until you try!

The road to public speaking success goes through repeatedly speaking in front of people – even if they might not want to listen to you. Although you might be surprised. So go ahead and try it.

Public Speaking Myth #10: My speech has to be perfect every time

Let me give you some bad news – you are going to give a lot of bad, imperfect speeches before you give a perfect one. And then goof up some more.

So don’t worry about perfection. The speech we practice is always different from the one we deliver. So just grab every chance you get to go in front of people and talk.

Public Speaking Myth #11: I don’t have a lot of knowledge

Speaking to people is not about being an expert on matters. Just speak about what you know. You don’t have to be the authority on everything. As long as you make sense, the listeners will be okay.

Public Speaking Myth #12: I am not confident enough

And you won’t be till you go out there on the stage again and again irrespective of how you do each time.

The more you face people, the more confident you will get. It’s that simple!

Public Speaking Myth #13: People might laugh at me

Maybe! Maybe they won’t! Okay let’s assume that they will. Laugh with them.

Laugh at yourself and there’ll be no love lost. Get up, dust yourself and gear up for the next speech. It can’t get worse than this.

Public Speaking Myth #14: Tech people don’t need speaking skills

If you want to move up in your career, speaking skills is a must. You may not be a great speaker but that’s alright. As long as you can talk to your team and present to the senior management when required, you are on your way to success.

Public Speaking Myth #15: You have to be entertaining 

Public speaking isn’t about entertaining people. You could be informing the audience or persuading them. Or simply be talking about a topic in a group – on a serious issue. So stop trying to be entertaining and just be yourself.

Public speaking can be unnerving. But there is nothing that practice cannot help you get perfect at. There are ways to prep even for impromptu speaking situation.

READ: 5 steps to becoming a confident speaker

If you want to work on your public speaking skills, drop me a line in the comments and let’s work on the step you want to improve one. Some of the unique features I offer ensure that you learn and improve in a non-threatening way.

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