Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Never ever apologize for your speaking abilities. Even if you have only the speaking ability of a terrified mouse, you'll just increase your suffering.

Apologies can take many forms

An apology can be verbal: 'Sorry, I'm not a public speaker. I'll keep it as short as possible.' Or it can be simply an expression on your face that conveys a similar feeling. You might argue that it's okay because you're just building rapport. You're being honest and humble - which, surely, are virtues. Aren't they?

What audiences think

No. Audiences hate it. They groan internally, partly because the I'm-no-good apology is ingratiating, partly because it conveys fear and submission. It says:

I want to lower your expectations to that you'll judge me by an easier standard.
I don't want you to feel let down at the end, so I'm doing it now.
I don't want you to think that I think that I'm good at this.
Please like me.

It's also self-fulfilling. It paints you into an even tighter corner, constraining the abilities you do have.

This witticism from Kin Hubbard: "Why don't the feller who says, 'I'm not a speech maker' let it go at that instead o' givin' a demonstration."

Well, that's cynical humour. So let's change it to this.

Have the courage to speak without apology

If you're nervous, make yourself speak anyway - with no reference to your lack of ability. If you're nervous, the audience will see it and credit you for your courage in the face of fear.

Michael

About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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