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Most of us don’t believe everything we’re told or hear about a topic, which is good because it may be erroneous or a myth.  This applies to public speaking so let’s do some myth busting right now!

Have you ever heard…

  • The best public speakers are born that way: this is a myth because public speaking is a critical skill that anyone can learn.
  • Effective public speaking requires memorization: having coached clients to be stronger public speakers (since 1994) I’ve always discouraged memorization to avoid sounding canned or scripted.  The only caveat is that it’s wise to memorize your opening and closing so you can maintain eye-contact.
  • Being nervous is the sign of a weak public speaker: the most experienced and well-trained speakers will experience some jitters before speaking (myself included).  Knowing how to manage nerves is what separates the effective from the ineffective speaker.
  • Using your hands is a distracting behavior and should be avoided when speaking: the goal is to appear as natural as possible and some gesturing is helpful in making you feel comfortable expressing yourself.
  • Moving around shows you’re nervous: knowing how, where and when to use the space you have can add depth to your message.
  • Look over the heads of your listeners: establishing eye-connections with your audience is one way to build trust and get your audience involved in what you’re saying.

These six myths are only the beginning.  In my opinion several other myths exist when it comes to public speaking.  What belief do you have that may be holding you back?

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