The One Thing You Should Never Do When You Are Public Speaking

November 11, 2014

FRESH Speaker Tiffany Dufu is Tiffany Dufu on stage – and no one else.

We’ve been to our share of public speaking trainings. There’s usually some awkward hypothetical assignment and a fair share of jargon thrown around (hit! bridge! sparkle!). You feel like you’re going to pee your pants. You don’t know what to do with your hands. You’re convinced that it shouldn’t be this hard.

You know what, you’re right. It shouldn’t. Really great public speakers don’t have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. They’re not perfect imitators or orators. They aren’t totally free of fear or self-doubt.

Really great public speakers know themselves well. They understand their strengths. They understand their challenges. And they try to take on gigs where the former are leveraged and the latter are minimized. They pay attention to the topics and kinds of conversations that light them up. When they’re in front of an audience, it’s that kind of light that they try to tap into, not the sort that comes with jazz hands and rhetorical manipulation.

Honestly, the worst thing you can do when you’re public speaking is pretend to be someone else. So don’t do that. End of training.

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