A Speakers’ Responsibilities

I happen to attend (and participate) in alot of public forums; meetings, conferences, user groups, associations, clubs, etc – and it has recently become a priority of mine to become a better speaker.  To do so, I’ve begun researching various speaking techniques, etiquette and even responsibilities.  During my findings and while attending recent events I’ve realized, perhaps others can benefit from this process?

Now, I’m by no means claiming to be an expert here, in fact I often struggle at times myself as I tend to be rather analytical and occasionally long-winded; however, I’m very passionate and try to expose myself only when I have relevent content or experience that can add value to the conversation.  Recently, I’ve begun doing some speaking within small and local levels, but my intent is to continuously grow, feeling more confident within larger and larger groups until I can command the stage in front of 1000’s!  Thats one of my 2007 goals anyways..

So, in the weeks/months to come, I intend to periodically share in my ‘public speaking’ findings, whether from first hand experience, observing others or just general thoughts on the subject.  I hope we can all benefit from the excercise and provide a more meaningful experience to all that watch us one day speak.

To those of you that do currently exel at public speaking, feel free to share your input.  Until then, I’ll begin mine, with a wiki like format:

  1. Maintain high ethical standards.  Speakers should be honest and straightforward with listeners, avoiding methods or goals that are decietful, dishonest, misleading or unfair.
  2. Never distort information.  An ethical speaker should always be honest about facts and figures.
  3. Respect your audience.  Some speakers show disrespect for their listeners, talking down to them as if they were ignorant or foolish.  Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.  Will Rogers once said, “There is nothing as stupid as an educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in”.  When you are the expert on a subject, remember that your “ignorant” listeners, on other topics, can reverese roles with you.
  4. Reject sterotyping.  You should reject stereotypes because they are “mental cookie cutters”, forcing all people in a group into the same simple pattern.  They fail to account for individual differences and the wide range of characteristics among members of any group.  Some lawyers are dishonest, yes, but many are not.
  5. Enrich listeners’ lives.  To make a contribution, you dont necessarily have to present life-saving tips.  You can persuade your audience to take action to solve a vexing problem; you can provide fascinating information that satisfies intellectual curiosity; you can entertain with anecdotes that divert people from their daily toils – all of these messages can be worthwhile gifts.
  6. Take every speech seriously.  Simple enough, you should try as hard to communicate with an audience of five as you would with an audience of 500.  You never know when one of your listeners may start a national movement based on your ideas.
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