Public Speaking Myths to
Clear Up Right Now
Myth #5 -
Great Speakers Can Just Wing It
This has to be the most dangerous
myth of all. The danger isn’t in thinking that other
speakers can wing it, the danger is in thinking that you
Here’s the truth about winging
it: Even the pros can’t really do it well!
A professional speaker is the
same as any other professional. They’re so well prepared
that they make it look effortless. It seems they can
stand up and speak at any time, under any circumstances,
and most of them can, only if they’re prepared. Remember
that being prepared has nothing to do with memorizing
your presentation; it has to do with knowing your
message so well that you can speak about it at any time.
I shudder when I hear someone
tell me they have a presentation to give and they’re
just going to wing it. I have suffered through countless
presentations and speeches that were off the cuff and I
can tell you that I have never, ever seen a presenter
“wing it” and give a truly good presentation.
Tiger Woods may be able pick up a
golf club at any time and play a great game of golf with
no prior notice, but does that mean he’s winging it? No,
because Tiger is a professional and his countless hours
of practice make him prepared.
As a speaker, you need to know
your material so well that you’re always prepared to
speak about it, even at a moment’s notice. What may seem
like winging it turns out to be efficient preparation.
Many speakers confuse polite
feedback from their audience with having given a good
presentation. Here’s a secret you need to know: people
will always tell you what a great job you did, even if
you suck! As a speaker, what you care about isn’t what
your audience says to you, but how they feel about you
and your message.
When you wing it, even though you
may feel good about your performance and your audience
may give you kind feedback, it’s likely that many more
of your audience noticed your lack of preparation and
feel a little ripped off. After all, they invested their
time to be there and you should have either invested the
time to prepare or declined the invitation to speak.
So, what’s the lesson? Even if
you think you can wing it, you probably can’t. Be
prepared at all times.