Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

“Booooring! What’s in it for us?” Captivate your audience with the help of these tips! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]

December 2, 2020

Four Talk Styles to Avoid in Speeches or Presentations


There are a lot of ways to build a great talk.

As many as those ways may be, public speakers or presenters still have to carefully choose the approach they use in their presentation.

This includes taking note of the inappropriate talk styles that could tarnish their reputation as a speaker.

In our previous Speak on The Shoulders of Giants articles, we talked about The Sales Pitch and The Ramble. Today, we’ll focus on another talk style to avoid: The Org Bore.

There’s a fine line between “sharing” and “bragging” about a certain topic in your speech or presentation.

When you share, you discuss information that is personally uplifting and helpful for your audience.

On the other hand, when you’re just rambling on about you or your organization’s accomplishments (which your audience doesn’t really care much about), that’s bragging.

Bragging will only make you feel good about yourself and your organization while not serving any higher purpose for your audience.

According to Chris Anderson in his book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” a talk that simply highlights a specific organization is only appealing to those who are affiliated with it, but can be boring to those who are not.

In Anderson’s words:

“Any talk framed around the exceptional history of your company, the complex-but-oh-so-impressive way it is structured, the fabulously photogenic quality of the astonishingly talented team working with you, and how much success your products are having, is going to leave your audience snoozing at the starting line.”

As a public speaker or presenter, you know failing to provide your audience with any valuable information during your presentation is like intentionally going out of your way to bore people.

It’s a BIG NO-NO.

Sure, mentioning your organization is giving credit where it’s due but that isn’t the point of your presentation. Instead of enumerating your organization’s achievements, focus on the nature of the work and the ideas powering that work.

It’s easy to feel like it’s your obligation to honor the competent teams you’ve worked with, especially when you’re the only one up on stage presenting. When you’re the head of the organization, this obligation gets even stronger and you end up being in “selling mode” and veer away from the message you want to convey.

There’s a right time and place for that kind of presentation―and most of the time, it’s not something you should be doing.

Take a look at this statement. This is an example of an “org bore” talk (as used by Anderson):

“Back in 2005, we set up a new department in Dallas in this office building, and its goal was to investigate how we could slash our energy costs, so I allocated Vice President Hank Boreham to the task…”

Do you notice how the speaker’s statement all points back to him and his organization?

If you’re a part of that organization and you completely understand what the speaker is talking about, you’d be a bit more interested to listen to that presentation. However, if you’re part of an audience who doesn’t know anything about that organization or what it is doing, you’d start to feel bored and disinterested.

Instead of stating it that way, say:

“Back in 2005, we discovered something surprising. It turns out that it’s possible for an average office to slash its energy costs by 60% without any noticeable loss of productivity. Let me share with you how…”

Do you see the difference between the two statements?

The first one sounds self-serving and kills audience interest while the second one is more pleasing to the ears and retains interest.

As you prepare for your next public speaking engagement, here are some tips to take note of to avoid being an “org bore”:

  1. Highlight the common grounds between you (or your organization) and your audience.

    We’re not saying that you should avoid any talk about you or your organization’s accomplishments at all.

    Instead, add comments or statements that help you connect your experiences with your audience.

    For example, if you’re talking about academic credentials, this is how you will lose their interest:

    “I graduated from Harvard Law School―and on top of my class too!”

    Why not try to make it sound a bit more “human,” like:

    “Like many of you, I’ve had the benefit of receiving a great education. Just like you, when the door of opportunity opens, I rush in and push harder. I worked hard to graduate from Harvard, and even harder to graduate at the top of my class.”

    Which statement did you feel like you connected more with the speaker? When you become relatable, you also eliminate any signs of intimidation your audience might feel towards you.

  2. Provide your audience with valuable insight.

    An important characteristic of a great speaker is their ability to connect their personal and organizational stories with an idea that their audience can relate to, even if the audience hasn’t experienced the exact same thing.

    When you deliver your presentation or speech, give your audience a window into an experience that is powerful and memorable for you, and which also offers useful insight for them too.

    For instance, if you’ve had the opportunity to speak with a prominent figure in the business industry and you want to talk about that experience, instead of saying:

    “I sat next to [prominent figure] and he spent the whole evening talking to me! Imagine that―everybody in that event wanted to talk to him, but he chose to talk to me.”

    You can say:

    “I had the opportunity to sit next to [prominent figure]. When I asked him, ‘What’s changed now that you’re CEO?’ He told me, ‘Now, every move I make is a big deal. Everything gets scrutinized.’ It made me think about how critical self-awareness is for all leaders and the shift in mindset it takes to maintain it once you’re pushed further into the spotlight.”

    By telling the story this way, you not just highlight how that experience is a great opportunity for you and your career, but you also leave your audience with an impactful message as food for thought.

  3. Don’t be the only hero in town. Be one of many heroes.

    A “single-hero” talk might sound like this:

    “I’m a turnaround expert. I can go into a store and immediately know what’s broken. I see signs of dysfunction. I know how to pull the levers to fix the problem.”

    On the other hand, sharing the spotlight with other “heroes” would be like:

    “I’m a turnaround expert but when I walk into a store, I focus on listening to the people. Fixing a store is not just about turning screws. It’s also about understanding what the team has been going through and getting to the root of their problems.”

    Remember that every time you share an experience on stage, you’re still an important part of the story but you’re not the only hero worth talking about.

    We’re not saying you should just pay lip service to others or adopt false modesty. We’re saying you should know how you fit in the bigger picture.

    Being inclusive in your speech or presentation is one of the effective ways to deliver a message to your audience.

Be careful with how you construct your sentences and have a clear objective in your presentations!

Your way of delivery holds the key on whether or not your audience will pay attention to you throughout your talk.

There is nothing wrong with mentioning a few of your accomplishments, but it depends on WHAT you say and HOW you say it.

Remember: When you just “brag” in your presentation, you’ll end up boring your audience, but when you “share” insights and other valuable information, you’ll be able to earn their trust and respect.

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”

In a meeting with one person

…a boardroom with five people

…or a huge venue with hundreds of people

—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.

No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.

What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?

Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.

The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.

(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)

Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.

Have that advantage.

Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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