[Image by Eliza of Pixabay]

For some of us, the end of the year signals that we need to develop promises (or resolutions) for the upcoming year. According to Merriam Webster, a “promise” is a declaration that one will start or refrain from doing a particular act.

This year, perhaps you want to try a different type of promise as a public speaker—one that you won’t do.  For example, try these four promises:

  1.  I won’t tell myself to be more relaxed when speaking.  Reason for this is that telling yourself this will simply not work.  It’s totally normal to feel nervous when speaking, as it’s our bodies’ way of preparing for a behavior that is new or different.  I tell all my clients that management vs. elimination of nervousness is my goal for them. A variety of tools can assist with this goal.
  2. I won’t tell myself to be more comedic by opening with a joke. Reason for this is that a public speaker isn’t hired to be comedic.  Being humorous is quite different and may be used if done effectively and if appropriate to your topic. A joke may not have the desired effect and potentially can offend your audience while being humorous may involve some self-deprecation. As long as being humorous is relevant to your message, it has value in that it relaxes your listeners.
  3. I won’t take content off the shelf in order to save time.  Reason for this is we never know if a member or members of our audience have heard our presentation in the past and no longer feel it applies to them. Additionally, they may feel bored or disinterested in our presentation and potentially will not listen to us.  Public speakers want to customize what they say.
  4. I won’t speak directly to my slides.  Reason for this is that if you opt to use a slide deck (e.g., PowerPoint) you don’t want your slides to serve as your notes.  If so, your slides are only for your benefit vs. for the benefit of your listeners. As public speakers, it’s critical to interact with your audience and only use your slides to enhance your message.

For this new year, as public speakers, let’s promise what we won’t do.  These four suggestions are a good starting point.  By the way if you’re wondering what you can promise to do….I promise to strengthen my public speaking by working with a qualified speaking professional.