I’m a loud, irritating guy. I’m also a professional. Combine the two, and you get a LOT of experience with speeches, both on the giving end and more now where I’m sitting in the audience. I have enjoyed many speeches, and I’ve suffered through FAR too many awful ones. Here’s some
tips crap you shouldn’t pull to make sure that a guy like me doesn’t stand up in the middle of one of your sentences, say “This is insulting, I’ll be getting work done if you need me” and leave.
Don’t open with a dictionary definition.
Your audience is present because you know something they don’t. We know that. You know that. Defining a word that we all know is condescending, patronizing, and boring. It was cool in 8th grade for your communications class, but it needs to stay there.
Don’t ask us how we’re doing, pretend we weren’t loud enough, and then ask again louder.
This is usually where I pull my phone out and start tweeting about your bad speech and you aren’t even ten seconds in. Without fail, this is followed by a lackluster chuckle and an “Ok, so…” It’s awful. It worked when I was six. It even worked when I was eight. By the time I was ten, it was stupid. It’s still stupid. Be flattered if it even gets a yawn out of me.
Don’t play Jock Jams when you come in.
Serious. And if you dance, I’m throwing my coffee mug at you. Again, this worked when I was in elementary school. Unless you’re selling me ecstasy and speakers, don’t pull this.
Stuffed animals? Seriously?
We’re adults and professionals. I’m taking time out of my workday, and you’re talking to me with a skunk puppet. I hope you die in a fire.
Know your gott dang PowerPoint.
Powerpoint is a powerful tool, but it was one of the largest speech-killers ever. Improperly used Powerpoints have irritated me to the point where I have stopped a speaker and left. I have work to do, jerk, and I’m listening to you talk instead of doing it. If you can’t summarize and then expand each point on your PowerPoint presentation, then you shouldn’t be giving a speech. Reading each slide verbatim to us is offensive. It’s downright offensive. If your speech includes a SINGLE SLIDE that you need to read word for word then it’s a bad speech. E-mail it to me instead, and then do it better.
God help you if you put a quote up and read it to me.
Again with the reading to me. Also, this is a business meeting, not a sermon. I don’t need to be enlightened, I need to know what you know so I can do my job better. Don’t read me a quote unless you want a frozen tomato lobbed your way. I’m not above it.
So tell me. What do YOU hate in speeches?