Monday, May 18, 2009

When does "competent" become an insult?

Thanks for the feedback on my series on the fear of public speaking, I have just completed the first volume an audio series "Ending your fear of public speaking" which will be for sale on my site and on itunes soon. This last weekend I did a keynote and two workshops for the Toastmasters district 21 conference in Whistler B.C. and I have been asked to train the Coca Cola team that will accompany the Olympic torch in 2010, so life is busy.I will continue with my series on eliminating the fear of public speaking shortly but would like to do something a little more interactive right now and hear some of your opinions.

  Practicing a speech is often a good idea but it is difficult to enjoy a speech that sounds practiced. This is also true with different strategies and techniques that are used within a speech. I sometimes see people deliver speeches that are very tight and well packaged and follow a lot of the book advice that is out there but far from being impressed, I'm actually put off. I would rather see someone fumble through their content, but in a very genuine way. 

So at what point is it that compentence becomes a liability and all those skill sets and methods hold you down instead of building you up? I'd like to know your opinions and hear your stories on the subject. 

Thanks! Chris




  1. To Me: Competence = a command of the material that you are presenting. It should never be an insult to be in command of the material that you are presenting.

    I agree with your larger point that there is something off putting about a "Bulletproof" presentation. There is a great deal to be said for the spontaneous. I always work of an outline that allows the flexibility and freedom to pick up the energy of a room and try to take my collaborators in the audience on the journey they are looking for.

  2. ..........and if that which is giving you command of your material is also alienating you from your audience?

  3. Could you give an example of how mastering the material about which you are speaking could possibly alienate you from an audience? I think you have confused "competence" with something else - for instance, an effort to give the perfect speech instead of conveying something that is meaningful to you and meaningful to the audience. Many "practiced" speeches are awesome (watch TED presentations) . . . the key is not to be less practiced but to be involved and enlivened by purpose.

  4. Hi Linda,
    thanks for your comment.

    I am primarily referring to those individuals who have a set agenda that they wish to fulfill within the confines of a speech and their rigorous adherence to the details of format and tricks/tools of delivery becomes more important than their genuine connection to either their material or their audience. I feel that in order to communicate effectively one has to have a clear picture of the different aspects that contribute to one's own personal style and abilities. Isolate these factors and learn to use them to their maximum potential bearing in mind goals and presentation situations. What I see more typically is people memorizing and executing generalized rules and axioms written for the broadest possible audience. This approach is disrespectful to both the individual as well as the audience that has to listen to them.

    My apologies for any unintentional obscurity bound up in the term "competent" - I hope this serves to provide some clarity on the subject and my position within it. thx c


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