December 21, 2012

Is your speech spammy?



Today I was scrolling through Facebook, you know, for work... and came across a story that didn't quite seem believable to me. Yet several people I know had shared and commented on it. I Googled the subject of the story, and sure enough, part of the story was true, but the part that people were upset about was a complete fabrication.

You've seen these kinds of stories. They start out seeming credible and possible, but somewhere along the line, details get embellished and become more dramatic and farfetched, and pretty soon everyone is up in arms, reposting and calling for someone's head on a platter.

Posts like these clog my news feed every day, and are an utter waste of space. Yet it never occurs to those who post them to take a few seconds to Google the topic or visit Snopes.com to verify the story before they spam the rest of us with this junk.

This, of course, made me think of presentations that are embellished with dramatic stories, quotes and statistics that have never been verified but are repeated endlessly by speaker after speaker. Here are two that make me crazy.

Think of this unsubstantiated information as spam. It takes up space in your presentation where valuable content could be. It wastes your audience's time when they could be learning something true and relevant to their lives.

Furthermore, if you are misleading your audience, you are not just doing them a disservice, you are deceiving them - even manipulating them - to get the result you want. Is that how you want to influence people? Is that how you want to get your results? Maybe you know your audience is gullible enough to believe you, or maybe you're truly misinformed yourself. That doesn't excuse passing along unresearched material as fact.

What happens when they find out the truth?

1. At best, you look misinformed and lose some credibility and trust.
2. You look out of touch with reality.
3. You look like an outright idiot.
4. At worst, you look like a liar.

After the Facebook post I mentioned above, I was treated to another example of (to say the least) misleading information being used as a metaphor for personal growth. It's not a bad metaphor and people can identify with the pain and suffering described in the story, but it's completely false! Below, the short video I'm referring to. And here's the link that debunks the story.



Please take the time to make sure your material is solid, honest, truthful, verified and not manipulative. Nobody likes spam, but people especially dislike being led down a path that turns out to be a route to nowhere.

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