Oh Canada...Why So Sorry?
As Canada day approaches, we may start to ponder our distinctive Canadian identity: Politely waiting for the crosswalk to change, devouring poutine at 4 a.m., and excessively apologizing for our existence.
Apologies, disclaimers and the many ways we excuse and devalue ourselves and our messages.
Nowhere does the superfluous apology seem more self-effacing than when you are speaking publicly, such as during a presentation or talk.
Here Are 5 Common Apologies We Must Stop Using During Our Presentations.
1. "If I can just say a few quick words here..."
On a discussion panel, or hosting a conference or managing a meeting, I often hear people rush to speak. Why? Speakers sometimes diminish their message by racing because actual time restrictions exist, or someone feels people don't really want to hear what they have to say, or someone genuinely fears public speaking and wants the experience done.
By starting your talk or "quick" presentation with such a disclaimer, however, you are telling the audience that what you have to say does not warrant their full time or attention. When the pace of a speaker's delivery is so fast that information does not "have time to land" (e.g. people cannot properly hear or digest rushed content) the message is instantly devalued.
LAUREN'S RULE: Write short concise statements in advance and practice delivering them in a composed, slow manner.
2. "Hi, Sorry..."
Bumping into someone and excusing yourself is one thing, but during a presentation, saying sorry as you begin to speak is apologizing for speaking. For many Canadians this has become muscle memory, a knee-jerk reaction. I love being Canadian, I love that we are known for being polite; we just need to be more aware of saying sorry when its highly unnecessary.
LAUREN'S RULE: Out with the old (habits) in with the new.
3. "Okay, I don't know, but..."
Filler phrases like this creep into our dialogues without us even realizing we are apologizing.
Before you speak, take a deep breath and then start your presentation as you have practiced it. I am quite sure the introduction you practiced is not "okay I don't know but...." More likely it is something like: "Good afternoon everyone. I am pleased to..."
Simply begin your speech with your introduction. Whether it's an informative or persuasive speech, beginning on a strong, authoritative note can demonstrate that you really are an expert in your field and indeed know your work.
LAUREN'S RULE: Practice your introduction until it becomes "muscle memory"
4. "I know this has already been mentioned, but..."
With this phrase alone you are immediately undermining your work, your insights, your experiences and the recognition you deserve.
Conferences and events are usually built on a theme, so you might well find yourself speaking about a subject similar to that of another speaker, but don't worry about this! You are bringing your personality and insights to the table -- your point of view. You and your presentation are worthy of being heard! Do the proper research and preparation for your presentation, and do not disengage the audience because you feel you are repeating what someone else has said.
LAUREN'S RULE: You are a sanctioned speaker at this event and people have gathered to hear everything you have to share.
5. "I hope you enjoyed my presentation," or "I hope you were able to find some value in my presentation..."
There's polite, and then there's ending your speech on an insecure tone. We often use this parting phase to thank the audience for listening to our speech or attending the conference, but in actuality this phrase leaves a sense of doubt with the audience, and can sabotage your status. A better way to end your presentation would be to say something like: "Thank you for your time today..."
LAUREN'S RULE: Fellow Canadians, never ever hope they enjoyed your presentation, assume they did! A simple note of thanks always goes the distance.
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