Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Too casual or not too casual?

One of the greatest gifts that a speaker can possess is to be themselves; to speak in their own voice without being burdened by a constructed or artificial style. For some people this comes naturally, for others it takes time to define and learn to control the factors that define how the construct and deliver a speech. One interesting problem that I sometimes see is people who are comfortable and relaxed when they speak but so much so, it has actually created problems for them. What I’d like to do is briefly examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a casual style when public speaking.


The advantages of a casual style of speaking are fairly well documented and many people spend a great deal of time trying to perfect this approach.

A casual style:

1 - shows that you are comfortable and relaxed and puts your audience at ease.

2 - allows you to communicate in a genuine manner

3 - can help to diffuse tension and/or discontent in your audience

4 - means that the crowd feels as though they are listening to a real person and not just a factoid pitchperson


The disadvantages vary from person to person depending on how they demonstrate a “casual” style but here are just a few possible pitfalls.

A casual style:

1 - can often be delivered in a manner of speech that’s slightly faster and looser – and therefore content and emphasis can be lost.

2 - often ignores important devices that can be used to make your point – (eg: repetition, lists etc.)

3 - can cause you to lose your sense of authority. While you seldom want to push a crowd around, you do want to put across that you are an authority on your subject.

4 - can lead people to misinterpret your opinions or emotions. Sometimes people will see a casual attitude as one belonging to someone who does not really care about their topic.

In the end it is important to remember that while your audience does want to see “the real you” they also want to hear a well delivered speech so there is far more too it than just settling in and getting comfortable. Getting the full benefit from a more casual approach can only be achieved if you are meeting the broader objectives of your presentation so bear them in mind and try to maintain the best balance possible.

Thanks – let me know if you have any questions and …. stay loose,


n.b. – my new speaker coaching website is now up at: http://www.laughlearnlead.com/


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