Ok not to be perfect

Is perfection as a public speaker overrated?

Ok not to be perfect

Do you aim for a perfect 100 out of 100 performance when you speak in front of an audience?


I’m going to let you into a secret about public speaking…

…most audiences neither expect nor crave perfection.

They are usually much more interested in whether:

  1. What you have to say is meaningful to them, and
  2. You connect with them at an emotional level.

This is why people who tell stories and are prepared to appear vulnerable are often more successful in enthralling audiences than those who make no mistakes.

Almost seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

The power of inspirational stories is immense

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about:

I recently spent a morning at the National Stammering Awareness day in Dublin.

And I was blown away by stories told by so many speakers who haven’t just leaned to cope with stammering – they soar above their challenges.

Young and older speakers inspired us.

They told us about how they had confronted and overcome their fears so that they could now speak up and be heard…

…and journeys they had taken to find the courage to leave behind years of relying on avoidance tricks so others wouldn’t ask them to speak in public.

As they told us their stories, you could have heard a pin drop…we, the audience, were at the edge of our seats; drawn into the world that the speakers had lived through.

And we were there with them – inside their heads and following their every move; from hiding at the back of class rooms to feeling their perceptions of how others saw them.

We weren’t thinking about whether we were listening to perfection – we focused on what really mattered, the messages shared by the speakers. And we were inspired!

Worry less about perfection – let people see you at a human level

The lesson that all speakers can take away from the wonderful speeches shared at the Irish Stammering Association’s national awareness day is this – sometimes it’s more important to be approximately right than precisely wrong!

Know this – life experiences have tremendous value. We all learn lessons along the way that have the capacity to help and inspire others.

So, be prepared to tap into your reservoir of experiences and share these with audiences. And as you do, notice that your audiences will focus more on entering into the worlds your stories evoke than the exact words you use.

Who has inspired you?

Tell us about stories you have heard that have inspired you.

Photo Credit: kirstyhall


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