Over the years I have attended, and presented, many speeches. I recently, and miserably, travelled to Wisconsin in order to sit through 25 minutes of the speech from hell. Ergo, I feel a responsibility to provide some tips for any of my thousands of readers/fans that may have occasion to give a speech or presentation in the future.

• ‘I’ve never done this before.’ Change to: ‘I’d like to start with the complete self-destruction of my credibility.’

• Avoid tired, worn clichés like the plague. Example: ‘avoid like the plague.’

• ‘I’ or ‘me.’ The presentation is not about you, it’s about the audience. Replace ‘I’ or ‘me’ with ‘you,’ or ‘us.’

• ‘So . . .’ Over 90 percent of the time this is the first word out of a speaker’s mouth, and yet ‘so’ is a continuation of a previous thought. So, it’s impossible to start a speech with ‘so.’

• ‘First, I’ll talk about…,’ ‘then we’ll talk about…,’ ‘then I’ll talk about…,’ then there will be a short break so that you can all walk out!

• ‘My topic is . . .’ Like the space shuttle, the launch is the most critical point in your speech. Ask a question, or better yet, lead with a compelling, attention-getting statement: ‘Every one of us in this room will one day (wish, experience, face...)’

• ‘I’ve been asked to speak about…’ Wow, you are either really important — or a pompous @$$.

• ‘Sorry for…’ Uh-oh. Definition of apology: ‘an expression of regret, remorse or sorrow.’ How can this possibly go well?

• ‘I’d like to start out with a story.’ A story is one of the best ways to open any speech. However, introducing the introduction negates the advantage of starting with a story. Just start the story.

• ‘There’s a funny joke . . .’ Hmmm — think Rainman declaring ‘I’m an excellent driver.’ Skip the stage-setting and simply start with, ‘A rabbi, a priest and a monkey walk into the bar….’

• ‘Excuse me if I seem nervous.’ Change it to ‘Excuse me if my speech is a knock-kneed, soaked-in-sweat, quavering voice failure…’ It’s much more efficient at completely destroying your credibility.

• ‘I’m not good at public speaking.’ Um, then don’t do it.

• ‘I’m not a speaker.’ Um, are you giving a presentation? Then, yes you are.

• ‘Bear with me.’ I was told in a class to always be prepared enough to give your presentation as if your laptop was lost at the airport. (Sidebar: Note that it’s not ‘bare with me,’ which would actually be much more entertaining.)

• ‘The next slide shows . . .’ Unless you’re presenting to an audience composed of sightless people, just shut-up and show the slide.

• ‘Moving right along . . .’ Translation: I will put no effort into clever or intelligent transitioning.

• ‘I think I’ve bored you enough.’ Oh please, it’s the pathetic speech equivalent of, ‘Was it good for you?’

• ‘I’m running out of time...’ Replace with ‘I am completely lacking in any time-management skills.’

• ‘That’s all I have to say.’ Replace with: ‘As opposed to giving any thought on how to end a speech brilliantly and memorably, I will simply bail out weakly and lamely!’

Speaking of which, I’m running out of space and I think I’ve bored you enough. That’s all I have to say.

Opinions offered in If I Were King are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email the King at Some content adapted from the internet.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.