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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

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 can.

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.

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