You’ve probably heard that “variety is the spice of life,” and we live in a time when all kinds of varieties — from blue roses to bacon ice cream to 1200 cable channels — are easily available.
But when it comes to public speaking, variety can be your enemy.
For Public Speaking, Repetition is Your Friend — No Matter What Your High School English Teacher Told You!
Anyone who’s ever studied English or writing in high school or beyond has probably been taught this “Golden Rule”:
NEVER REPEAT YOURSELF
And lots of my clients have carried this seemingly-sage advice into their adult public speaking experiences.
Unfortunately, as discussed in Public Speaking Tip 4: Writing “Rules” Aren’t for Public Speaking, what’s a reasonable proposition for writing (and for high school!) doesn’t work when you’re talking about speech.
That’s because listening is a fundamentally different activity than reading.
If I’m reading your words and lose my train of thought… or get distracted… or run into an argument that isn’t entirely clear… I can go back and look for the information, argument, or action I missed noting on my first pass.
But if I’m listening to you, and I don’t follow or grasp something that you say, I’ve lost my one and only chance to understand you — unless you repeat yourself.
Repeat the Stuff that Matters Most
Sure, we all get bored (or annoyed) when people repeat themselves to no purpose.
But when you repeat important information… or your key message… or a phrase that’s particularly meaningful to your audience, people won’t even think of this as repetition.
They’ll experience it as reinforcement, and be grateful that they had another opportunity to catch your most important point.
So remember: Speaking is not like writing. Hearing is not like reading.
And for public speaking, an important way to insure that your message gets heard is to repeat, repeat, repeat yourself!