3 common tactics that public speakers should abandon

Many pepper their presentations with abbreviations or lay out lists of how-to rules—replete with extensive ancillary guidelines. Improve your talk by avoiding such pitfalls.

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Over time, however, you realize they are best modified, unlearned or avoided altogether.

Here are three common practices to ditch:

1. Embracing the acronyms. Acronyms and abbreviations are everywhere, from the FBI and CIA to FOMO and SMH. Some are helpful, even essential. The FBI would never get anything done if all its agents had to say, “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” every time they explained where they worked. So, acronyms can be a time-saver.

In public speaking, they are not very good at doing what they’re enlisted for: helping the audience remember a long list of concepts.

You, the speaker, may have spent hours figuring out that E.X.C.E.L.L.E.N.C.E. stands for, well, excellence, “xpertise,” craft, endurance, lavishness, length, enquiry, nonchalance, cleverness, and evergreen. Those in your audience won’t assimilate that. Back in the office, they’ll be scratching their heads saying, “What did the third ‘e’ stand for?” if they think about it at all.

Medical speakers are particularly prone to abbreviations, having relied on them as students to memorize body parts. Remember how much fun med school was? Do you really want to inflict that same mental pain on your audiences?

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