Hilda Dolittle says:

dolittle“Let us not teach
what we have
learned badly

and not profited by”


Hiding Behind the Podium

yakUntil relatively recently, I spent a good deal of my work weeks sitting on planes listening to pilots drone on and on–

about how we were going to be leaving CLT very shortly…

and after a long while, and some ear bleeding aeronautics,

—more droning about when we were gonna arrive (late) .

Then, I’d spend the rest of my time doing training presentations…
— babbling on, of course, about how short I was going to keep my talk,

so I could back on the plane and go through the same thing again — ad nauseam.

Now, I know damn well the rules of good public speaking.

And the best rule of public speaking is to say it and sit down.

( Say it and don’t spray it only counts for face to face communication,
ya know)

aBut, no one really seems to do that–

between other people’s long-winded introductions on why you’re here and what makes you such a gall darned expert in the first place —

( which in my case is even harder to explain, because I’m NOT ) —

Then my own propensity toward digression and too much detail kicks in…

And there, of course, is always the matter of that very attractive 30-something lady in the front row with the wonderfully low cut blouse and silk stockings with them cute lines up the back.

I confess I mighta used the old rule of ‘visualizing your audience naked’ a little too much then, I think.

Well, all I can say is “SORRY Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas, etc, etc, etc “.

They did have really good food in some of them there places, though.


since I would hate to have any of my readers thinking that I was that ignorant in the ways of the podium, I have worked up a post on the five cardinal rules of public speaking .

If you follow these rules, I can virtually promise you that you will never have to worry about escaping from a tired, bored and hostile crowd of Philadelphians, or any other place you might be visiting.

(Unless you tell somebody you don’t want broccoli rabe or cheese whiz on your damned sandwich. )




Rule One:
Know Your Subject. moon

A lot of the reason people aren’t more confident when speaking to large groups has to do with a fear that someone might question your authoritativeness on the subject– or ask you a question you can’t answer.

You gotta own your subject — know it as well as you can, and prepare for the tougher questions you might get ahead of time.

That way, you can’t get caught with your pants down.

Unless you’re talking to a bunch of nudists.
In which case, I’m not sure anybody is gonna be listening to you anyway.


Rule Two:
Breathe, man. spongebob

Seeming to be knowledgeable on a subject, and rushing through your presentation as fast as humanly possible without taking anything but an existential breath — are not really compatible ideas.

You must force yourself to slow down, take natural pauses, and breathe deeply.

Not so deeply that you need somebody to hand you a paper bag, no…

Just natural breaths–

Hey, you can do this…
…. you’ve been breathing without help for many years now, right?


Rule Three:
Say it and Sit Down. point

I mighta mentioned this one before…

and I dunno how many of these kinds of things I’ve been to over the years—

—heaven knows I’ve been an offender myself–
(like right now) —

But it seems like speakers always want to beat a dead horse —

until everybody’s bored to tears and thinking about anything else other than what’s being discussed.

Find a way to keep your presentation short and sweet — and you’ll become a favorite guest at these kinds of things.

Assuming you like these kinds of things.

Otherwise, drone on to your heart’s content.


Rule Four:
Know your audience. bieber

I remember seeing a comedian at a Comedy Club in Toronto one time…

Sometimes, when you’re traveling for a living, it’s hard to remember what day it is, or what city you’re in.

But I was relatively sure I was in Ottawa, Canada.

Until the comedian kept making references to being in Toronto.

I dunno how he missed the grumbles coming from the peanut gallery after his first couple comments…

But when it became obvious to the entire crowd that he really thought he WAS in Toronto, well, let’s just say heckling isn’t descriptive of a word for what he got.

Them Ottawanianers can be brutal, man.



Rule Five: wiz
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

No matter how good a speaker you are, sometimes stuff is gonna go blank.

Now, I usually speak extempore, but I’ll always have someone on the side lines keep a few note cards with questions I have prepared ahead of time, to get me back on my thought-train should I fall- or get pushed, off.

I just give a slight nod to my secret pal in the audience, and he interrupts with a question that will get me back to the subject at hand.

This is an enormous advantage — it gives you the confidence to adjust your approach, and the way you address your subject, without being limited to reading a script– or worse–
— getting completely, utterly, and hopelessly lost.

And boy, have I been THERE.


Now, if you’ve done everything right, you can expect a round of rousing applause, cheers, and the general uproar clamoring for you to immediately announce your candidacy for President of the United States.

Or, maybe just this.