Rookie mistakes


Many young people want to enter the speaking and training business. I love to see them and hear them in action. I can spot talent and potential, and I can also tell whether the rookie has fresh materials or is merely copying someone else’s and trying to pass it as his or her own. I can easily detect whether a speaker is authentic or falsifying claims and is embellishing credentials to build credibility and respect.

I applaud the young ones who may still be rough and raw but are authentic and have good content. I have mentored some and today have become respected brands of their own. I still am mentoring a few, and though it may take a little time for them to grow and mature, I know they will get there someday. There are times when I see rookie speakers, I would applaud and tell them, “You did a great job out there!” There are also times when I want to hold their shoulders with both hands, shake them and say, “You can do better than this. You did not have to do all those unnecessary antics.”

If you want to enter the arena of public speaking, here are some rookie mistakes you will have to avoid and some professional tips you need to embrace.

1. Do not generalize and do not apologize

The beginning of the speech sets the tone. Do not say: “We all know...” (how would you know that all of us know and what if I don’t?) That is the danger of generalizing. “I was not expecting to be called to make a speech...” (This means you are not prepared, so why waste my time?) Cut the clutter and go straight to the point.

2. Do not try to be funny when you are not

A local speaker made fun of an international audience during his presentation. He thought he was being cute. He may have watched too many comedies and fancies himself as a stand-up comedian. What he did was inappropriate and showed disrespect, so a huge number of the delegation stood up and walked out on him right smack in the middle of his presentation. They returned the favor.

3. Do not provide irrelevant details

Stories are powerful, but many young and rookie speakers provide too many details that may be irrelevant to the point being made such that they leave the audience lost at best or zone out at worst. It has been said that “an expenditure of words without an income of ideas will lead to intellectual bankruptcy.” A good story will have some details, but if the speaker takes all day to get to the point, the audience will forget the point, get tired and bored, be impatient, and they cannot wait to have the torture over.

Meanwhile, here are some tips you need to do to hone your skills as a public speaker:

1. Know when to keep quiet

One of the most agonizing moments for me is observing a speaker, not knowing when and how to end the presentation. So there I was in the audience, and I felt like saying, “There! That is a great line. End it right there as it will leave a great impact.” But then the speaker drones on and on and fizzles out—what a waste of a good ending.

2. Prepare to be spontaneous

Seasoned speakers may see so witty and quick with that ad-lib or off-the-cuff remark, but I can assure you that they have prepared long and hard for it to appear spontaneous.

3. Dress well for the presentation

Your appearance matters. And now that most presentations are presented online, do not be tempted to be shabby with your attire. The audience can afford to be casual as they may be viewing you from their homes, but you are not the audience; you are the speaker, and how you look matters.

I have been described as “dapper” even when speaking, and training is now done virtually. It is my way of showing respect to my audience. It is also a personal reminder that I still have to pursue excellence and give my best if I am doing work in person or online.

Everybody starts as rookies, but they continue to grow and develop their craft. Not only that, they continue to develop their character, and that is why they are listened to because they are credible. As the saying goes, “The medium is the message.” Let me add a little caveat to this. The message must be right, but the messenger must be righteous.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will run this June 22-24, 2021. Develop leadership skills that translate into personal, career, and business growth. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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