The Art of Effective Public Speaking

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Public speaking is an art that holds immense potential to captivate and inspire an audience. However, all too often, we encounter presentations that fall short of their purpose, leaving us disengaged and uninspired. These lackluster speeches, which I like to call “stinky fish presentations,” fail to deliver the gift of an impactful experience. In this article, we will explore the essence of effective public speaking and how it can transform ordinary presentations into extraordinary ones.

The Power of Being Present

When we delve into the word “presentation,” we discover its roots in the concept of being present and engaged in the here and now. To become an effective public speaker, it is crucial to embrace this sense of presence. By remaining conscious and tuned in to our surroundings, we sharpen our speaking skills, remain alert, and make ourselves wholly available to the audience. A presentation should be seen as a gift, an offering of oneself to the listeners, and a connection that transcends mere words.

The Curse of Stinky Fish Presentations

Unfortunately, many speakers fail to perceive their presentations as valuable gifts to the audience. Consequently, they neglect the necessary care, shaping, and polishing required to make their speeches shine. These neglected presentations, which I refer to as “stinky fish,” leave an unpleasant lingering impact on the room. Like a smelly old fish, they are swiftly discarded and forgotten. We have all encountered such presentations, characterized by broken and dysfunctional content.

Analyzing a Stinky Fish Presentation

Let us examine a recent example of a stinky fish presentation to gain insights into the common pitfalls of public speaking. In this instance, a middle-aged man exhibited various negative attributes that undermined his effectiveness as a speaker:

  1. Lack of openness: The speaker crossed his arms throughout the presentation, cutting off the audience and hindering engagement. Openness and availability are vital qualities for a speaker to connect effectively.
  2. Excessive filler sounds and words: The speaker excessively used filler sounds such as “um” and filler words like “sort of” and “like.” These verbal crutches diminish the polish and preparation of a speech, proving annoying to the audience. In this case, there were an astonishing 61 instances of “um” in a 15-minute presentation.
  3. Over-apologizing: The speaker apologized excessively, undermining his credibility. Apologies for minor issues, such as font size or self-comparisons, create an unnecessary negative impression.

The Impact of Stinky Fish Presentations

Stinky fish presentations, like the one described, leave the audience feeling numb, disengaged, and uninspired. Unfortunately, such subpar speeches have become commonplace, resulting in a low standard for public speaking. As spectators, we yearn for movement, laughter, and genuine human connection during presentations. It is time to question this acceptance of mediocrity and consider the consequences of perpetuating this status quo.

Embracing the Red Pill: The Art of Performance

As speakers, we have a choice to make: the blue pill of the average, lackluster presentation or the red pill of transformative public speaking. Public speaking is a performing art akin to theater, dance, and music. To become successful, a speaker must master both compelling content creation and engaging performance.

Performance is the key to an extraordinary presentation. It is not about pretending to be someone you’re not, but rather being authentic while honing and refining the elements that comprise the performance of public speaking. These elements include:

  1. Appearance: Pay attention to your attire and the presence you radiate. Your outfit is part of the overall performance.
  2. Voice: Your voice is an instrument that must be skillfully played to captivate the audience’s attention.
  3. Body: Master the language of gestures and positions, using body language to convey your message effectively.
  4. Audience Connection: Forge a relationship with your audience, ensuring that you are on the same page and establishing a meaningful connection.

Shaping and Polishing Presentations

By understanding and applying the skills and techniques within these performance elements, speakers can shape, polish, and fine-tune their presentations to sparkle. It requires dedication, practice, and even occasional tears, but the rewards are worth it. A well-crafted presentation lingers in the room, pulsating with meaning. It becomes something the audience wants to hold onto, share, and cherish—not a forgettable stinky fish.


Public speaking has the power to change the world, energize rooms, and inspire action. By choosing the red pill of transformative public speaking, we embrace the art of performance. We abandon the low bar and elevate our presentations from ordinary to extraordinary. Remember, a presentation is a gift—a treasure that deserves to be cherished, nourished, and delivered with the utmost care. So, what will your choice be—the blue pill or the red pill? The choice is yours to make.


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