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Seven Speaking Myths: Beat These and Become a Great Speaker


Guest articles > Seven Speaking Myths: Beat These and Become a Great Speaker


by: Suzanne Bates


At some point in your career, speaking well could be the single factor that determines your success. You may have all the potential in the world but if your career stalls, the reason may be the way you communicate with important audiences.

To change this situation, you need to confront 7 common myths about Public speaking. If you recognize any of these myths on this list, do something about them so you can “speak your way to the top.”

Myth #1: Only a few people are really good at speaking. The truth is, even the greatest orators were not born with innate speaking skills. Everyone must practice to learn to speak well. And despite what you might think, extroverts have no advantage over introverts. Each personality type brings some natural skills to speaking but like learning to tie your shoes or solve algebra problems, speaking requires a skill set you must practice and learn.

Myth #2: If I just work really hard, someone is bound to notice. Unless your boss is an Ebenezer Scrooge, chaining yourself to your desk like Bob Cratchit and keeping your head down is not a good career strategy. It makes you invisible to your boss, to your colleagues and to people who report to you. You want others to view you as a contributor, and that means speaking, both formally and informally. Well-prepared communication with everyone you work with will make you highly visible, which, before long, will let everyone see you as a real asset within your organization.

Myth #3: My silence is respectful. In business, a silent person is perceived as if someone who has nothing to say. If no one on the team knows anything about your ideas, they’ll also assume you bring no value to the team, even if you’re apparently very smart and talented. Start thinking through your strategic views and write them down. Then practice so that you’re prepared to present and discuss your views in company meetings. When two people of equal value are in competition for a promotion, the one who can articulate the strategy and value will always get it.

Myth #4: There are no opportunities for me to speak. Don’t sit around and wait for opportunities to come your way, go out and create them! Remember that those senior to you will be judging you every day, assessing whether you have the right stuff to be a leader in the organization. Speaking, some have said, is “auditioning for leadership.” Volunteer your ideas and even to lead meetings. Find ways to lead.

Myth #5: I don’t have time to prepare so I’ll just wing it. Speaking with confidence and in a way that adds value is essential to career success. Your presentations must have both content and style, so your delivery must be relaxed and confident. The way to achieve this is preparing thoroughly for any formal or informal presentation. The best way to look like you know what you’re talking about is to… know what you’re talking about! Put in as much time as you can to prepare. Never wing it.
Myth #6: If my PowerPoint is great, my presentation will amaze them. Preparation means more than putting in untold hours on a killer slide show. In fact, forget about the slides: just outline your own unique, powerful ideas, then place yourself in a room by yourself, and practice out loud. Practicing this way is the single most important thing you can do to become a better speaker. Leave the PowerPoint at home.

Myth #7: My utter terror is a sign that I shouldn’t be speaking. Don’t mistake anxiety for an inability to speak. Your apprehension may feel overwhelming but it will be directly related to under-preparation. Your nerves may simply be your body’s way of telling you that you’re not ready to speak yet, that you haven’t put in enough time writing, preparing, or practicing. Don’t let this debilitate you, let it mobilize you to take action. Once again, get on your feet and practice, practice, practice. You’ll end up having fun, not fear, as deliver your great presentation.

Though certainly prevalent common beliefs, none of these myths are true. Anyone can become a great speaker if they simply beat back these inhibitors and put in the time to prove them wrong. Speaking never fails to have a significant impact on a career, so go out and create a “buzz” about you, let people see what a great contributor you are and show much value you can add to the organization. Senior management will recognize you for your confidence, initiative, and ideas, and find ways to reward you as a bona fide leader.

Suzanne Bates, President/CEO of Bates Communications, helps executives and professionals develop a unique and authentic communication style and become stars in their industries. Author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets to Commanding Attention and Getting Result (McGraw-Hill), she can be reached at 800-908-8239 or by visiting

Contributor: Suzanne Bates

Published here on: 18-May-08

Classification: Communication, Public speaking



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