November 9, 2007

Your speech is a gift

Here's a nice little post by Seth Godin about apologizing before you speak.

How many times have you apologized like this? In Seth's post, he talks about speakers who said things like, "I know you're hungry, but. . . " or "I know it's late, but. . . " before they began their speeches.

I once said, during a seminar, "I'm no expert, but. . .." Other speakers apologize for being nervous, for not being prepared, for not being experienced.

Two reasons not to apologize:

1. Seth says your speech is a gift: "That's why they call it 'giving' a speech." You've got nothing to apologize for, period. They invited you. They want you.

2. If you're apologizing to head off some possible criticism (because you're nervous, inexperienced or unprepared, for example), why don't you keep that to yourself?

You are ten times more sensitive to your own insecurities, and the audience likely has no clue that you feel uncomfortable - for whatever reason. (I would especially keep it to myself if I felt unprepared - that's more of an insult to the audience than a confession.)

Of course, feel free to be responsible about the time if it is indeed late, or people are waiting for their lunch. You will have plenty to apologize for if you go over time and keep people from their next engagement. But there's no need to apologize when you've done nothing to offend. Keep your insecurity to yourself.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

I can see where this might be true most of the time. But there are times when it does take some of the tension out of the room. I suppose I use those kinds of issues as opportunities for humor. For instance, if it is close to lunch, instead of acting like we all aint hungry, I will make a joke out of it. Maybe I am a messed up jacked up speaker.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I think there's a difference between, "I know you're hungry, but. . . " and "I know you're hungry, so. . .".

As in, "I know you're hungry and I don't want you to resort to cannibalism, so I'll have you out of here in plenty of time for lunch."

See how that's not apologetic, but still acknowledges that lunchtime is near? And you can still use humor, but you don't come across like a sad sack.

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