Public Speaking: Guidelines NOT Rules

January 20th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

Never say ummm, stand in a fixed position with arms at sides for first 15 seconds of presentation, use open gestures, don’t pace, don’t fidget, speak loudly . . . and the list of “rules” goes on and on.

In the Target Intellect Blog on Public Speaking, we share a great deal of helpful tips on presenting with impact.  In this blog entry, I’d like to clarify that these tips are merely guidelines; not rules.

A close friend of mine and I made the distinction of rules vs. guidelines when learning professional entertainment skills.  In some cases a magical effect that seemed to break many of the fundamental “rules” of good entertainment, still knocked the socks of the audience.  In those cases, we through the rules out the window and only worried about audience reaction.

A few weeks ago I witnessed a sales trainer who truly connected with her audience.  Her energy and enthusiasm were incredible.  I also noticed that she failed to use enough pauses, she spoke too fast, she said “um” a great deal, BUT despite all the pecadillos, the audience LOVED her.  Why?  She genuinely cared about the audience and established rapport with them through her passion and sincerity.

Granted, not many presenters can carry off the “what you see is what you get” approach and earn rave reviews as she did.  But there is a small lesson to keep in mind.  When reading the professional blogs about any discipline, there are very few golden rules, most are simply excellent guidelines.

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