10 Myths of Public Speaking

1) I can wing my presentation. No you can’t – the audience will know if you are prepared or not.

2) Creating a few slides is a substitute for preparation. The slides are there to enhance a presentation, not substitute for it. Creating the slides are only part of the presentation. In fact, most presentations may even be better without any slides at all.

3) It’s all about what I know, not what I can give the audience. It is all about the audience – what is in it for them? If you create an audience focused, as opposed to a speaker focused presentation, it will be far more effective.

4) Who cares about timing? Well, a lot of people actually – especially the audience and meeting planner. If you are constantly over time, you will annoy a lot of people, reduce the effectiveness of your message, and reduce your chance of future bookings.

5) It doesn’t take long to prepare a speech. Some speakers may be able to prepare quickly, but you cannot prepare your entire presentation the evening before, or even worse – on the way to the presentation. And if you really have to, please don’t tell anybody – it does not look professional. I have heard speakers say "When I was preparing my speech on the way to the venue this evening…"

6) I can write out my entire speech, and just read it back. If you are reading your speech word for word, it will sound read, you will be unable to focus on your audience, and you will loose lose your audience.

7) I don’t need a microphone. For an audience larger than 50, you need a microphone – no matter how booming your voice.

8) Structure isn’t important. Lack of structure = lack of preparation.

9) I’d rather die than give a speech. Go ahead then. Can anybody find where this "statistic" comes from? Would you really rather die than give a speech?

10) I can make jokes at the expense of the audience. Only if you want to alienate your audience.

… and a bonus

11) You have to be born a good speaker. So, do you have to be born with a microphone in your mouth? Sure, many people are born great speakers, but many more become great speakers through persistence, preparation and practice. Ask any Toastmaster!

When you are the Emcee at a Wedding

I mentored a new client recently on being an emcee at a wedding – so the responsibilities of the emcee have been been on my mind. Enjoy!

The role of the emcee is simply to ensure that the event runs smoothly. This really is a two-fold role ? running the show on the day, and being prepared for any eventuality. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to handle the curve-balls.

This checklist is really a guide of what may be required of you. At many weddings, there is a separate wedding arranger that will take care of a lot of these things, but you may be required to handle many unexpected situations.

Because your role is very prominent, you are the person that most people are going to approach with any questions or problems (even if it is officially not your problem), so it is best to be prepared. Remember to delegate and get assistance where possible or necessary.

Before the Event

  • Get a copy of the agenda and check the timings
    • Who is speaking?
    • How long are the speakers speaking for?
    • When are they speaking?
    • What time is dinner, dancing, etc
    • Get contact numbers for all involved (just in case)
      • Bride/groom
      • Venue
      • Photographer
      • DJ
      • Best man
      • Bridesmaid etc
  • Find out the dress code
  • What are the ?taboo? topics?
  • Is there a special eating order (eg: table 1 first etc)?/li>

At the Event

  • Arrive early
  • Check out the venue
    • Toilets
    • Smoking area
    • Where are you speaking from?
    • Table for the gifts etc
  • Ask the best man to phone you a few minutes before they arrive, so you can get people where you want them for when the bridal party arrives
  • Confirm timings for the meals with the venue
  • Find out where the controls are for the sound
    • Is there a DJ?
    • Where do you switch the background sound off?
    • How do the microphones work?
    • Is there a dedicated audio-visual person to assist (hotels etc may have)?


  • Welcome the guests
    • Briefly go through the programme ?we are going to have starters, then the groom will speak??
    • Mention logistics
      • where to smoke
      • where the toilets are
      • please switch your phones off during the speeches etc
  • Mention Eating order
  • Speeches
    • You just need to bridge the speeches, you are not the star of the show
    • Be brief
    • Watch timing of speakers ? adjust the programme if necessary
  • Let the venue know if food needs to be earlier/later
  • Humour ? keep it appropriate
  • You are not the star of the show, but you are critical to the success of the show
  • Remember that you are working ? watch alcohol
  • Have fun and enjoy yourself!

    3 things they don?t tell you about goal setting

    Here are three things that will make a huge difference between achieving a goal or not quite making it. There is a fine line between success and failure, and these will help you to cross that line. 

    1. You need to really want to achieve the goal. How easy is it going to be to achieve the goal if you are only 50% committed to achieving it? That gives you only 50% chance of success. If you want to achieve a goal, be fully committed.
    2. There is no room for doubt. If you allow room for doubt, it will creep in and hold you back. Make a decision that you WILL reach the goal.
    3. Sometimes achieving a goal actually requires work! When Darren le Croix won the world champion of public speaking, a colleague told him how lucky he was to have won. The colleague had no idea how much work and energy Darren had put into that goal.

    What else don?t they tell you?

    Are you an expert communicator?

    Expert_2I have always believed that to get ahead in life, you need to be an effective communicator, regardless of what your field of work is. You need to be able to communicate to:

    • your peers
    • your boss
    • your clients
    • your prospective clients
    • your service-providers
    • your subordinates
    • your partner
    • your children
    • your parents
    • your …

    There is an interesting article by Dustin Wax on Lifehack, "How to be an expert", in which he speaks to this.

    Dustin says that

    "expertise without the ability to communicate is practically pointless",

    and you need to 

    "learn to use whatever technologies you need to present your expertise in the best possible way",


    "an expert should be able to explain to you exactly what they?re doing and why".

    It all boils down to the ability to communicate. No matter how knowledgeable you are, your knowledge is worthless if you cannot communicate. Here are a few ways to improve your communication:

    • Practise
    • Get coaching
    • Watch and listen to great communicators
    • Join Toastmasters
    • Get to the point
    • Listen to others

    Good luck

    (image source)

    15 leadership traits

    Here are 15 traits of leadership to consider…


    1. Learn from each other
    2. Learn from themselves
    3. Treat mistakes as a learning opportunity
    4. Hold themselves accountable
    5. Hold others accountable
    6. Live leadership ? don?t switch it on and off
    7. Admit their mistakes
    8. Know their own shortcomings
    9. Make decisions and take action
    10. Don?t procrastinate
    11. Listen to others
    12. Have an open mind
    13. Lead from the front
    14. Get their hands dirty
    15. Find opportunity in every situation.

    What is great about this list is that all of these traits can be learned!

    Which of these characteristics do you have?

    Which of these characteristics do you see in others?