Avoid this when speaking publicly

Have you ever felt confident about the content of your speech but still fail to get the desired results? Do you feel that your personality will make up for the lack of content? Often times, we go to a speech without knowing much about how the audience will react to it. Infact, a few words or phrases that you use break your speech.

A speech may be short and concise or long and detailed, indulge a single topic or several, poorly written or written by professionals, some phrases used by the speaker can as well make as break the speech.

When a speaker is on stage, every single thing done is noticed, every single word heard, registered and analyzed by the audience. The audience will not only be critical about your physical appearance, dressing style, confidence but also every single word spewed out of your mouth and it is easy to lose their interest in a minute. That is why speeches are so meticulously designed to cater to needs of the audience and not lose their interest for even a single second. Speakers rehearse their parts for hours to get it right. 

While some speakers are mindful of everything that say, some really let go when talking off script, making for some really cringy comments.

Here are some words and phrases that public speakers should avoid at all costs:

‘I’ and ‘me’

It may be in the written script or done unconsciously, but using words ‘I’ and ‘me’ is to be avoided for a better experience. The audience present in the room is there for their own personal gains and not listen to you drone on about yourself. A speaker who only talks in these terms is bound to come off as narcissistic, even though it may not be the intentions of the person.

It is advised to replace ‘I’ and ‘me’ with ‘We’ and ‘us’ to make the audience feel like a part of the process. Ultimately you are there to talk about something that is beneficial to them and excluding them is not going to get you brownie points for sure.
While it may seem unavoidable to use these words at some point like when talking about personal experience to make a point, the focus should be to make it beneficial for the audience.


After years of fighting against patriarchy, women are still reduced to sharing their identity with males. Rather than using generalized ‘he’ or ‘mankind’ etc, it is better to use words for all the people like ‘them’ and ‘people’. 

This may seem insignificant to some and most of the speakers don’t pay attention to these small details but taking care of them is what makes best speakers stand out from the lot. 

Abusive Language

There is nothing more offensive than listening to a person curse in a room full of people. It is not only offensive but extremely rude. You would never see a good and established public speaker making this mistake. This is not only an indicator of the respect that you have for your audience but also self restraint. 

It is understandable that it may be frustrating if your mike is not working properly, or there are other technical difficulties, or maybe you are missing a page of your speech. but rather than losing cool, a sensible speaker will maintain his demeanour and not land in trouble because of cursing.

Racist words and comments

It need not be mentioned that it is of utmost importance that you are respectful to every person sitting in the audience, as well as the one’s listening to your speech afterwards online. There should be no malicious comment on people of any sex, race, class and community. Your speech cannot be offensive to anyone. Period.

This is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when delivering a speech. You will never see a sensible prominent speaker taking a jab at anyone or any community, even though they may be familiar with that person or themselves belong to that community. What may be a joke to some people, can hurt feelings of others.

“I did not prepare for this…”

The people in the audience have taken time out of their busy schedule to give you a chance to present your point and saying that you did not prepare for it is disrespectful to them.
Maybe you are trying to play on the safe side by saying this, if the speech goes wrong and does not meet the expectation of people, but it is for them to decide whether the speech comes out as prepared or not. It can also be a possibility that you give a genuinely good speech, so do not second guess yourself.

And if you really did not prepare, then there is no need for your audience to know. You must be confident to still dazzle them with your performance.

‘Umm’ and ‘So…’

Imagine listening to a speaker who says ‘Umm’ at the end of every sentence or paragraph. It is frustrating and shows the lack of confidence.

Filler words like this not only take away the flow of the speech, they take away its effect. It may be because you are remembering something or you are not sure, both of which shows lack of preparation.

If you want to take a pause in between, then it is better to leave it blank and not speak rather than using filler words. Even when you are connecting two different topics, opt for more suitable words.

In addition to this, concluding the speech with a long ‘So…’ never ends well. On the contrary it sounds immature and out of context. It is better to use formal language.

“I am not sure, but...”

When you are going on stage, be it to deliver a motivating speech, a lecture or an opinion, people have certain expectations from you. And one of them is that you are sure of what you are saying. How can you say something to a room full of people without being entirely sure of it yourself? 

This phrase is really a suicide for your speech. If you are not sure of something, do not talk about it, work around it, avoid it or get your facts or opinions right before starting the speech.
Not being sure again indicates lack of preparation and confidence, both of which are a must for public speaking.

“Bear with me” or “I think I’ve bored you enough”

When you go on stage, you are supposed to be confident about you content and your ability to keep people interested in what you are saying. And when you throw in your cards by saying things like this, it highlights the lack of confidence that the speaker has. 
You should be sure of yourself and demand the attention of the audience through your performance and not ask for it or think that you are not worth their time. If you were not worth it you would not have been up there. 

So, buckle up and dazzle them with your speech the next time you go on stage.

These are some words and phrases that a public speaker should keep in mind when going on stage. These small details can really make or break the speech. So be sure next time that you keep points these in mind.

- Isha Jain

Source: https://mindgrad.com/free-reads/f/avoid-this-when-speaking-publicly

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