Public Speaking Tip 1: Lose that Scorecard in Your Mind

You’ve probably heard the expression, “good is the enemy of great,” right? In our achievement-oriented culture, the meaning of that phrase is clear:

Don’t settle. Don’t be” just” good when you can push, push, push yourself to be… well, great!

Yeah, yeah, whatever!

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably pretty ambitious. And I’m as fond of “great” as the next person. But for public speaking, this approach will totally screw you up.

In fact, for most types of communication, great is the enemy of good.

What do I mean by that?

  • Judging yourself harshly can tie your tongue;
  • Too-high standards can lead to panic attacks; and
  • As sure as the night follows the day, trying to be perfect will trip you up.


Because there’s no such thing as public speaking perfection! It’s a mirage.

But I Want To Be a Great Public Speaker

Then you will be great — eventually. But there are two things to note about that process:

First, like anything worthwhile, becoming a kick-ass public speaker takes time and effort, effort and time.

And second, even when you are great, you still won’t be perfect. In fact, you’ll probably seem a lot less perfect to yourself than you seem to the people who listen to you speak, because you’re probably your own worst critic. (We’re back to that ambition thing, right?)

In fact, as you get clearer about what it’s possible to achieve, you might feel worse about your accomplishments than you did when just standing up in front of people without fainting was a triumph.

Not saying that’s gonna happen. Just saying, the idea that “I’ll feel good about myself when I’ve mastered this” is a trap — because you never do!

What to Take on the Public Speaking Journey

As you develop your public speaking skills, don’t keep track of the “mistakes” you make, or the words you leave out, or whether you nail the length of every pause.

That’s all dead weight you don’t need to carry.

Instead, plan to travel with a good road map…  some high-energy snacks…  water…  music… and a few good friends.

  • Bring some running shoes and dress shoes — some blue jeans and some fancy clothes.
  • Bring your sense of humor and some patience.
  • Bring yourself.

But leave the scorecard at home!

Image by Joe Cooke / Unsplash

Buy 100 Top Public Speaking Tips: The Book!

In 25 years of speaker coaching, I’ve helped my individual speaker coaching clients develop their strengths and skills to become authentic and effective communicators.

Along the way, I’ve developed tips for everything from small talk to speaking up in meetings, from managing fear to making an impact.

And now, I’ve shared it all in 100 Top Public Speaking Tips: The Book. This beautifully designed PDF booklet is searchable, clickable, and categorized, so that you can find what you need, instantly.


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