10 Cringe-Worthy Speaker Behaviors


We always hear about “best practices on the podium,” and what we should do as platform professionals; but what about the stuff that seems to drive people crazy?

I asked the uber-pros of NSA and PSA to use their keen skills to tell me what drives them over the edge when they are a part of the audience. Here is a top 10 list from our loquacious lectern lurkers:

1. Time Killer and Stealer

These tardy to the party, non-breathing babblers believe every word falling from their lips is gospel, and that the schedule the meeting planner has worked on is totally irrelevant, as they show up late and go well over time.

2. Riding on Superman’s Cape-Tails While Name-Dropping and Being a Pompous Arse. After All, it is all about YOU!

These platform pontificators usually sound like this:

“I was just chatting with my good friend The Dalai Lama and he was asking if I wanted to get together again for golf with him and the new pope. He asked me not to use all the tricks that Tiger Woods taught me during our last outing so they could keep up this time. I know YOU PEOPLE don’t know anything about that kind of life. I am so tired of talking about me. So let me ask a question – What do you guys think about my tie? Hot huh?”

Yes…that is the sound of nails on a chalkboard.


If you were in HOLLYWOOD that would work; but you are in St Louis. If you really want to show off, follow that up by saying “Oh…that is where I want to be.”

4. Borrow, Cheat, Steal, Repeat

These thieves forget to give credit where credit is due. They scour the books, websites and demo videos of their colleagues for “original material.” Also, you will hear them repeating a story with some or all of the following words — lighthouse, warship, bricklayers, frog, boiling water, or starfish.

5. Punishment via PowerPoint®

They assume the audience can’t read, possibly because they have 80bullet points on their slide in 12point font. To make matters worse, when they are not pacing back and forth, they stop right between the projector and the screen, which inevitably is always about crotch height. The slide, of course, is either littered with bullets, or a picture of a monkey eating a banana.

6. Mirror-Mirror, Mic-Check Mayhem

They wear clothes that are too short, too tight, ill fitting, or unzipped in an effort to “bring sexy back.” If they are extra special, they will do this while you are checking the mic in front of a live audience. *Tap Tap Tap* “Is this thing on?”

7. Commercial Driver’s License

These pros like to throw someone under the bus, hop in the driver’s seat, and back over them on stage. When the AV shuts down, the electricity goes out, or their time got messed up – they will ensure that everyone knows that it is NOT their fault and whose fault it really is.

8. I am the ALL KNOWING Speaking Expert – and Canned Goods is My Game.

These people ignore the brief, and serve up the same cold-canned speech EVERY single time. Mmmm…tastes like old chicken.

9. If you’re Happy and you know it – Clap Your Hands, Rub Your Neighbor, Yell ‘Whoop Whoop’, and Do Jumping Jacks.

They lack content so they do everything else in the name of engagement.

10. Hmmm…I can’t come up with a number 10.

I know I promised 10, but I am only going to give you nine. Just kidding!

These speakers promise to give something, get to something later, or simply forget their promises. I am not one of those speakers so – broken promises is number 10.

Dawnna St. Louis

Dawnna St. Louis

Dawnna St Louis is a forward-thinking game changer that promotes women in business. Drawing on lessons learned in the trenches as a homeless teenager and as a successful international C-Level executive, Dawnna’s programs delivers breakthroughs towards business success.
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis
Dawnna St. Louis

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