The First Sin of Public Speaking? Reading

“What’s the single worst thing that people do when giving presentations?”

That’s the question I received from the person seated next to me yesterday afternoon on my flight to New York City.

After thinking a moment, I settled on the following answer: “Reading your speech.”

Here’s my logic. The number one rule of speaking is to connect. And the first rule of connection is eye contact. And you can’t make eye contact if you’re reading.  So reading the the first sin. 

Of course, there are other key sins. There are the sins of failure to make a point, failure to tell stories, failure to keep the presentation as short as reasonably possible.

But the number one sign that a presentation is going to stink is if the presenter stands up and reads his presentation.

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