Dr. Nick Morgan, author of Four Steps to Becoming a More Effective Leader, recently wrote about some of the worst lessons that public speaking classes still teach on his Forbes blog.  Morgan is a communication theorist and coach, with several books on speaking, leadership, and communications.

Given his wide experience in public speaking and communication education, Morgan has had a chance to hear every rule that public speaker teachers swear by, and was nice enough to share some of the worst offenders with the rest of us.


Tips for Public Speaking

So what are the worst offenders?

“A good presentation has to have slides.” Of all of his bad rules, this one seems to be the one that Morgan is the most adamant about.  As he puts it, “real leaders don’t use Power Point.”  Essentially, Morgan is in favor of building connection and a story between the presenter and the audience, and he believes that slides are a crutch that lets the presenter hide away from the audience.  While this might be a good way to get over your fear of public speaking, it’s not really the most effective presentation.


“Stay behind the podium.”  While Morgan agrees that this is a way to make sure you can remain in touch with your notes and button to advance the slides, he also argues that it doesn’t matter.  And it makes sense, what is more dynamic presentation?  One where the speaker stays locked behind the podium or one where he moves around on stage?


Morgan also suggests that it’s not necessary to save the last 15 minutes of the speech for Q&A, and that, given the opportunity, it’s always a better idea to speak conversationally to the audience rather than hold up a formal front.  In general, most of Morgan’s suggestions lead to bringing the audience and the speaker closer together, and if you keep that idea in mind you’re likely to succeed no matter how many bad rules you’ve been taught.