Things to avoid when speaking publicly - the video.

So I'm pleased to show off a goofy little video I prepared using the great suggestions made at a previous post (Hopefully, the start of a definitive list of things to avoid at all cost when speaking publicly.).

It's being used to promote a student conference I'm helping with - the one that borrows the TED conference template and makes it available within a university setting. Anyway, more on that later. For now, let me know what you think.

Thumbs up? Then do spread it on - the student conference could do with as much viral love as it can get.

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I definitely think it's a contender. This is a slide I quickly made for the "Things to avoid when speaking publicly" video (see below), where I tried my best to make it as jarring as possible. Crazy thing is, is that this is actually a powerpoint template you can download! I'm at a lost to…

Comic Sans DOES suck! Good one, and a necessary lesson for presenters. Fonts do matter.

Don't! Wing it and you'll sound like a pro! Don't read a book or this post, just play it by ear. Hopefully you have a tin ear.

Go off topic - ramble on dude, ramble on! Surprise the audience, introduce non sequiturs and other irrelevant topics. Confuse the heck out of them by tossing in throw away lines that make no sense to the subject at hand. It keeps them on their toes.

Ignore the knowledge level of the audience. Assume they know everything you know, have read every book you've read, come from the same neighborhood you lived, visited all the sites you've been to, and generally don't need to attend this talk. Introduce subjects without background information, the more complex the better. Best of all use a foreign language, especially obscure dialects.

Don't practice saying difficult words then mispronounce them throughout the entire talk. Better yet, use multiple mispronunciations. Better yet, use trite phrases repeatedly, Better yet, mispronounce repeated trite phrases. Better yet...

Finally, don't tell the audience when to ask questions and when they do, go ballistic! While this falls into the creepy and packing heat categories, you don't need to be angry to be creepy. (Think about the speaker who makes inappropriate jokes.) Belittle their knowledge level or opinion. Make them as uncomfortable as possible - frightened is the best possible position. If you're packing heat make sure they know you're not only willing to use it, you're likely to use it! Extra points if you can get them to leave puddles in their chairs.

Comic sans, pfft! Use obscure fonts, especially script, gothic / olde English and italic versions of them. Wing Dings can really liven up a slide. Write your PowerPoint slides on a Mac then present it on a Windows PC. Be sure to use Mac only fonts like Linotype or Helvetica. Use lots of bullets too!

Indiscriminate use of bold can stand in for annoying animation. NOthing beaTs wierD CapitZation and, stRAnge(!?!) pUncTuati0n to

Cite obscure, preferably nonstandard publications and sources. It's difficult in the education setting but if you can violate copyright and trademark law, so much the better. If you can't do that, then don't give attributes, make them guess where to find it.

Contradict your visuals. If the slide is blue, tell them it's green. Doing this gives you the chance to go ballistic when they question your text. This goes in the behavior category but what do you know, where did you learn this, you wanna get up here and taLK@!@ How abOut you just leave now cause yOu're faIling thIs class Now!

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 02 Sep 2008 #permalink

Onkel Bob,
Thanks so much for that fresh perspective on teaching! I am going to bring it into the classroom with me, like, tomorrow. Love it!!!