Speakers, don’t fret about these four normal behaviors

Of course you should get feedback from a trusted source about your presentation prep, but don’t obsess over ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ or worry about natural gestures.

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There’s a type of speaker coaching that’s common, but more and more distasteful to me.

It’s coaching (or just garden-variety advice) that focuses on factors that, in large part, are normal and natural. Much is made of these factors, but you’d do better to focus on your content and your confidence, and to practice more, than to obsess about any of these normal qualities.

That’s especially true for female speakers, given that excessive attention to these behaviors can be used to silence women. After all, if we’re all busy nitpicking how you speak, we’re not really listening to what you’re saying, right?

As linguistics professor Robin Lakoff says: “We ought not to be instructing women to be better speakers. We should rather be teaching ourselves to be better listeners.”

Here’s my short list:

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