Public Speaking Pet Peeve Selling from the Stage

Every time I go to an event, I have to shut off the part of my brain that I use with my clients. My job at a workshop is not to critique the speaker, but to experience and be present.

I’d be lying to you if I said that this was easy. That I didn’t have a continually tell my brain to “shut your pie hole and let me enjoy.”

But with some encouragement my brain quiets, and I’m able to take away what I need to from the speaker, be present at the event, and enjoy myself.

But then there are a few (okay…five) pet peeves that tick me off to the point of distraction because they are completely avoidable and would make for an infinitely better public speaking experience for the audience if they never ever happened again.

Here, in the first of a series of five posts, I will share with you those things that really get my goat when I listen to speakers. Please do me a solid favor for my own mental health and eradicate these five public speaking pet peeves from your next speech. My brain will thank you and your audience – well, they’ll love you for it.

Pet Peeve #1 – Selling from the stage

Speak-to-sell formulas have ruined the art of public speaking.

I’m over – absolutely over – promises of 6-figure speaking, selling-from-the-stage online courses, make money from your audience. It needs to STOP.

Public speaking is not about you. I repeat public speaking is not about you!

To show you why, let me dust off my Ph.D. and break out Aristotle to make my point. Back in the days of Greece, speaking was about advocacy. It was about expressing your opinion to make society better. It was about change. That’s why Aristotle spent his time pontificating and writing about rhetoric and persuasion. He wanted the world to be a better place through advocacy.

Fast forward to today and public speaking has become all about the Benjamins. Thanks for coming – now buy my shit. It’s more about what the speaker can get from the audience than what she can give.

Your audience is more than a bunch of open wallets, dying to buy from you while sitting in uncomfortable chairs.

Stop selling from the stage. Start focusing on the audience and how you can meaningful impact their lives.

You accomplish this – they will follow you to the ends of the Earth. The long term relationship is more valuable than the short term sale.

Case in point, I get clients from speaking gigs I did over a year ago. No, I didn’t walk away from the gig with my pockets lined in hundred dollar bills, but a year later I’m still seeing the dividends of someone who chose to opt into my tribe of rebels, loved the vibe, and chose to build a relationship with me.

Stop selling the audience and treat every speaking gig like a first date. The goal is to get a second date that leads to a long term relationship.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, stay tuned for next week! I’ll be telling you about the public speaking pet peeve that loses your audience moments after you start speaking. You won’t want to miss it!