10 deadly sins of the speaker


I travel quite often to conferences of various sizes, sometimes as a listener, sometimes as a speaker, and not less often I notice that even at huge conferences, even among significant people in the industry, even quite famous speakers, there are things that spoil the impression the hall, or at all, makes people leave the hall by not listening to the speaker to the end. Today I would like to consider those things that, in my opinion, spoil the emotions of your listeners and force them not to listen to you.

Sin One: Presentation Language

It so happened that the Russian language is not particularly often used by modern domestic engineers. At work, you name variables in English, documentation in English, and even the content of your application, often in English. Years prof. deformations force you to use a foreign language everywhere, including your presentation - which is bad for the audience. The visual memory is much more powerful than the auditory, and if you are dissynchronized, with what a person sees, and what you say - the audience understands less. Use the presentation language in the presentation, keeping the balance of what you say and what you show.

Sin Two: Memes and Inappropriate Humor

Humor is a very important showman tool. You can dilute the report with humor and give the audience a break from the flow of basic information, but when humor is not a means but a goal, the report rolls into a stand-up, or TOP-10 best memes from 2ch. It is necessary to give the audience a rest from the report, and not to make it laugh to suffer. Lack of humor does not always badly affect your listeners, as the report itself can be easy to read, while the flow of funny pictures is always. Try to introduce one rule: if your report really requires “cognitive breaks”, then try to insert no more than one joke / funny picture for 5-15 minutes of the report (depending on the format).

Third Sin: incomprehensible presentation

A more important part of the report is its visualization. Visual content remains in the memory of the viewer and creates long-term memories and associations. But, as soon as you start “playing with fonts”, “choose an unusual background” or use dizzying animations, no matter how interesting your speech is - the viewer's associations break down and his eyes begin to ache.

Check list is simple:

  • Minimum text on slides
  • Visualize everything that should remain in the minds of the audience.
  • Do not use "unusual" fonts.
  • Use maximum text size
  • For better visibility, use the bright theme of the presentation / editor, if you do not know the location in advance.
  • Do not use background patterns if they will merge with the text / code

Fourth Sin: Recurring Report

A mediocre speaker like a fading rock star - just repeats old material. And before you add an angry comment, I will say that you naturally need to improve your report and the next time you can make it more intense and interesting than the previous one, the difference is only in the number of iterations. There is no consensus on the number of speeches with one theme, but I adhere to the idea that there is no need to repeat the report more than once (if you’re not done in another language, for example).

Sin number five: ignorance of the audience

The main purpose of any report: to bring something to the viewer, and when most of the audience does not understand you (or does not want to understand), your report fails. Each theme has its own audience, and it would be foolish to tell on a CSS mitap how to work with memory in C, or how to open your bakery business in a JavaScript conference. Know the "average in the hospital" baggage of knowledge of your students and topics that they will be interested in, and most importantly, understandable .

Sin Six: Unpreparedness

One of the guarantees of a good performance is its preparation. If the speaker scores on the preparation - the report becomes terrible. By preparing the report, I understand the following things:

  • Shaping the theme
  • Goal formation
  • Collecting and packaging content
  • Content visualization
  • Preparing your own speech
  • Cutting off unnecessary

Even worse, when the viewer begins to tell excuses, instead of a report.
Here the recipe is even simpler: you need to start preparing for a speech at least a week before.

Sin seventh: lack of filing

More important than the visualization of the report is its presentation. Submission of the report includes many criteria: voice, facial expressions, gestures, postures, focus on key phrases and much more. But if you miss the key points - the report will become incomprehensible, no matter how cool the content may be.
If you have problems with public speaking, then sign up for courses, read Cicero, prepare phrases or whole sentences for a report. Otherwise, at best, nobody will understand you.

Sin of the eighth: self-advertisement

Everyone puts some purpose into the report: someone wants to make a contribution to the community, someone to tell people about their profits / sufferings with some kind of technology, and someone just for HYIP. I am not a snob, and I understand that each report is to some extent a PR move by the speaker himself (or his company). But there are speakers who have one goal - PR. Such reports are usually about not very complicated and popular (already chewed at hundreds of conferences) things. They do not carry any meaning, and are filled with a bunch of links to the author, his company logos, a story about the steepness of the company's / speaker’s decisions, and so on.

Sin ninth: low qualifications

One of the most terrible things for a speaker is not owning a report topic. There are two kinds of speakers with this problem:

  1. Aware of their partial incompetence in the matter
  2. Confident of everything earlier and later said

With the first type of speakers, everything is simple: they talk about something new, or about something at the intersection of technology. They can be controversial in the part of the question in which they are competent. But with the second everything is very bad. There is a cognitive distortion called the “Dunning-Kruger effect”, which consists in the inability to be aware of their mistakes due to the low level of their qualifications. Such reports are terrible, and the Q & A series is ridiculous for people with sufficient skills.
The recipe, as always, is simple: tell about what you know, or study the question on all verticals.

Sin ten: arrogance

I thought for a long time about what repels me most of all from the report - the first and only option arising in my thoughts was arrogance. A good speaker should always put himself on a par with the community. A good speaker offers a solution, and does not impose the only true thoughts to which no one but the author will come up with (sarcasm). A good speaker talks about his experience, and do not criticize the experience of others. A good speaker listens to questions and corrects his knowledge, and does not publicly defend his point of view.


I hope the article will help novice (and not so) speakers to analyze their own speeches, draw conclusions and delight our community with the coolest speeches.
Also, I would like to know what things are pushing you away from the report / speaker.

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