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Three Rules of Public Speaking March 12, 2008

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Blogging.
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According to Robert Scoble, the audience at SXSW that panned Sarah Lacy’s “Keynote Interview” with Mark Zuckerberg (founder/creator of Facebook) is “a bunch of Twittering Assholes.” Much has been made about what went wrong with this event, and some (like Robert) have even tried to be helpful by highlighting what should have been done differently.

Several people have suggested that the response has been overblown. Much has been made about the behavior of the audience at the event. Rather than rehash the various issues with that particular interview or taking the audience to the woodshed for their “childish” behavior, I’d rather approach this from the opposite side. What makes a good live presentation?


I have done a little public speaking myself (presenting at technical conferences and church/community groups with audiences of a few hundred to upwards of 5,000), along with other types of public performances/presentations (community theater, lip-sync/pantomime for live audiences and syndicated TV, singing telegrams, and so on). I state that here, not to try to impress someone, but simply to present some basic credentials. I’m familiar with both ends of the spectrum in terms of results: I have been successful in presenting to large audiences, and I have bombed.

I have noted that successful performances have some interesting similarities. I have identified three rules for a successful live presentation. (more…)