Public Speaking Myths

What we know about something affects how we approach and respond to it. And when our knowledge is corrupted by half-truths and fallacies, it does not put us in the best place for performance. We look at a number of myths associated with public speaking in an attempt to improve our speech and our approach to public speaking.

1. Great Speakers are Born.

This is the number one public speaking myth. Effective public speaking is a learned skill. Whether you are naturally extroverted and good at crowds, or you are more of the reserved type, the place of training and sharpening this skill cannot be eliminated. With the right training and the willingness to learn and grow, everyone can improve their abilities and become effective public speakers. Understand that this is a skill, and every skill can be learned by anyone.

With the right training and the willingness to learn and grow, everyone can improve their abilities and become effective public speakers. Understand that this is a skill, and every skill can be learned by anyone.

~Evanson Muchai

2. Expert Speakers Have No Anxiety

Public speaking anxiety, also known as glossophobia, is one of the most commonly reported social fears. Fear is a natural emotion that should be embraced and understood rather than dismissed. Every speaker, regardless of their expertise will experience public speaking anxiety. This is a matter of learning to manage apprehension, building a positive self-image and changing how we see public speaking. This will ultimately change how we perform, and cause us to deliver better under these comfortable circumstances

 3. Practice Makes Perfect

Practice is only helpful if you practice effective skills. If you practice bad habits, you’re likely to grow less effective rather than more effective; consequently, it’s crucial to learn and follow the principles of effectiveness. The other thing I want to mention is over practicing. You might even be wondering, how is over practicing a problem. Your brain needs time to process what you’ve learned and reset after 20-30 minutes of practice. Well, an over practiced speech when delivered will be monotonous and robotic. Over practice never leads to great performance. It does the opposite actually. If you don’t have any goals as to what you want to achieve during your practice session, then you’ll be more likely to just mess around, which in turn nets very little results. Every time you sit down, you must have in mind what you want to practice or improve in the coming 20-30 minutes. Keep a timer and really concentrate for that period of time, and force yourself to step back after you’re done.

 4. Memorization is the answer esp. if afraid & apprehensive

Memorizing creates more problems than it solves. This belief, if acted on, is likely to be detrimental. Memorizing your speech is one of the worst things you can do; there are easier and more effective ways to deal with fear. At the Personal and Corporate Development Company, we encourage our students to learn how to master the central idea of their message. This enables them to speak without having to remember the exact words in their speech and gives them the ability to express their message in the best way possible as the moment of speech demands.

5. Audience Size/Type Matters

While we may not entirely claim that the audience size does not matter, the primary focus should always be on the speaker’s performance. Does it mean because I am speaking to 10 people that I should be less effective, less engaging, less enthusiastic about the speech. Certainly No. A speaker is obligated to always perform at their optimum, meet the audience’s needs, and achieve the goal of the speech regardless of the size and type of the audience. The principles of delivery are constant and should be observed at all times.

6. Good writers always make good speakers

This is one of those public speaking myths that we commonly deal with in our classes. Speaking is not the same as writing. These are two arts that require a different set of skills, with only a minimum degree of overlap between them.  Speaking uses a different part of the brain requiring skills you don’t need when you write. Although some communication skills apply to both writing and speaking, the two forms are more different than similar—in their focus on the audience, in their responsiveness to immediate feedback, and in their language.

7. The right to Free speech allows speakers to express themselves totally

Speech is free but not totally. Free speech isn’t limitless. Freedom of speech does not legalize slander, libel, defamation, or plagiarism. Our freedom to speak bears with it the responsibility to allow others the same right. It is not absolute in that we can say anything we choose, any time and any place. Our personal morals and the ethical boundaries should help make that clear. In addition, as the frequent examples of cultural incorrectness highlighted by the media illustrate, even when speech is not illegal, it can have serious negative consequences when used in culturally insensitive ways. Understanding the appropriate ethical boundaries shows thoughtfulness and intelligence as well as personal integrity

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