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He is happy, standing, arms outstretched, others are bored and asleep. Minilypse Ljubljana 2008


1.   Speak monotonously

When speaking to the audience, do not be enthusiastic in any way. This will only connect you with the audience, which is the opposite of what you want. There’s a very good chance that many of the delegates will have had a heavy night so any sleep inducing monotony will be welcomed. Strip your presentation of emotion because showing any emotion is, of course, a weakness.

2.   Over-run

Do not, under any circumstances, finish on time. The audience is here to listen to you and they will stay there until you’ve finished, Forget the food that’s waiting to be served. Your content is far more important than the audience’s time. This will ensure that the audience will forget everything you shared and instead remember that you wasted their time. Bingo. If you’re not quite ready to over-run then a good second place would be to under-run. Say, for example, you were given a 45-minute slot, try and finish 20 minutes early and say something like “Ok I’m done. How much longer have I got?” (I witnessed this in 2007 so I know it works) Seriously, this is a great way to fail. Your client will be unable to resist thinking that you have short-changed them.

3.   Turn up just before the presentation

Your personal time is of the utmost importance when speaking so don’t waste any of it if you don’t have to. Getting to the event just before you’re scheduled to speak cuts out all the unnecessary chitchat with your clients and audience members. This means you can do something much more important like having a coffee in Starbucks, playing Angry Birds or if you feel that way inclined, a crossword in your car before the event. What’s more, once you’ve finished don’t hang around speaking to audience members. If you do you’ll only get people wanting to connect with you and if you’re not careful they may even invite you to speak for them. Disaster! Grab your things, don’t speak to a soul, make no eye contact and get out fast. Win-win.

4.   Don’t bother preparing

Preparation is for Winners. And your objective is to fail. People who prepare before their speeches pin their success on carefully planned points, research into the company and what might be challenging them at present. To fail miserably, winging it is a much more logical approach. Also, instead of preparing answers to any questions you might be asked by the audience, you should just try thinking on the spot and say whatever pops into your head. This unprofessional response will minimize further questions.

5.   Don’t look at the audience whilst speaking.

One of the best ways to fail is avoiding eye contact with the audience at all costs. Try looking at your shoes, over their heads or at your watch. Another idea is staring at an audience member for too long to make them feel as uncomfortable as possible. One thing to consider is to look at the screen for most of the presentation. This also disconnects you from them.

6.   Stand at the lectern

When speaking I would encourage you to consider standing behind the lectern and hold on to it for dear life.  This will then form a barrier between you and your audience. Whatever you do, don’t walk away from the lectern. You may have seen some of the flashy speakers who have the audacity to walk to the front of the stage and speak from it. Who do they think they are? Not to mention those who jump off the stage and walk on the ground level. Whatever next? Oh, and try folding your arms throughout.

7.   Read from slides or notes

Reading from slides or notes is really helpful as it means you didn’t have to waste any time preparing or rehearsing you can just look down at your notes or crane your neck up to an hour instead. This will also help you sound boring and completely unnatural. You’ll sound wooden and in the era of boring speakers you’ll fit in really nicely.

8.   Turn up late

Another really great way to fail is to turn up late to your event and waste the time of your audience and clients. That way they will they dislike like you before you begin and will most likely want a refund depending on the nature of the event. Imagine all the social media activity this may generate. Even bad publicity is publicity. This may also mean that the company/client won’t want you back which is great news as disgruntled customers are sure-fire ways to fail. The added bonus is that you will have caused a major problem for the client as they struggle to fill in before you arrive. This personal development for them will be something they will thank you for in the end although they may not recognise the value at the time.

9.   Include as much irrelevant information as possible

Really try to ramble on as much as you can about information that is irrelevant and the audience doesn’t care about. Topics such as the weather or how the traffic was on your way to the event are great ways to both bore your guests and again, potentially send them to sleep. These topics will also inadvertently become the only thing you audience members recall about the speech because it was so off-hand and irrelevant that they couldn’t forget it. They’ll get home, and when asked about how the speech went, the first thing they’ll talk about it how weird it was that you spent most of the time talking about a dream you had last week and the weather forecast for the next 7 days. You get the idea. Be creative. Throw anything in.

10. Do not share personal stories

Here at the iCan Speak Academy, we’ve noticed a trend with many speakers sharing personal stories. Goodness me, what are they thinking of? You are at great risk of public humiliation and embarrassment. Why tell personal stories about your life and experiences with the risk that they will be able to relate to you? In order to fail stick to statistics and facts and leave your personal stories for the counselors sofa.

11. Get upset and frustrated when things go off track

If something goes wrong you should definitely fly off the handle and scream and shout about it. Blame everyone but yourself will add more stress and tension to the situation. That way you will isolate and ostracize the team working around you. Your audience will see how you treat the others and you’ll lose any respect they may have had for you. Getting flustered will also help you forget key parts of your speech and presentation, leaving it sloppy and unorganized. At all costs do not stay calm when things do not go as planned. The audience will love it. They love to be entertained and you will be providing entertainment and added value.

12. Be a nervous wreck/ let your fears get the better of you

If you’re someone who gets nervous before speaking you should definitely let that show. Don’t bother investing in yourself by attending any of these over priced courses you can go on which will allow you to become more comfortable whilst speaking. Save your money. Of course remaining fearful will cost you far more in the long run but the country is in a mess anyway so it’s nothing to get worked up about. Of course this may cost you lost promotions but who wants extra responsibility anyway? And lets not forget, having a fear of speaking is the norm. Why stand out? Blend in. You know it makes sense.

13. Over promise and under deliver.

I know you were expecting a 13th way to fail whilst speaking about now. Well there isn’t one. Try and promise something and fail to deliver. The audience will be confused and they’ll spend time trying to figure out if you have indeed delivered on your promise or not. Leave by the nearest exit and don’t look back.

Richard McCann is a Sunday Times No 1 Bestselling, International Award Winning Inspirational Speaker and the Founder of the iCan Speak Academy.

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