Listening to a talk is the closest most of us can get to having a conversation with someone like the president, who doesn't have time to meet individually with all the people who want to meet him. It's probably no coincidence that so many famous speakers are described as motivational speakers. I wish I could say that this force was more often used for good than ill, but I'm not sure.
Notes I'm not talking here about academic talks, which are a different type of thing.
Which of course makes me um even more, because I haven't had any time to practice the new bits.
Depending on your audience, there are even worse tradeoffs than these.
There was another speaker who was much better than me. A few years later I heard a talk by someone who was not merely a better speaker than me, but a famous speaker. So I decided I'd pay close attention to what he said, to learn how he did it.
Essay On Writing Versus Speech
After about ten sentences I found myself thinking "I don't want to be a good speaker."Being a really good speaker is not merely orthogonal to having good ideas, but in many ways pushes you in the opposite direction.
With speaking it's the opposite: having good ideas is an alarmingly small component of being a good speaker. As I was doing it I tried to imagine what a transcript of the other guy's talk would be like, and it was only then I realized he hadn't said very much.
I first noticed this at a conference several years ago. Maybe this would have been obvious to someone who knew more about speaking, but it was a revelation to me how much less ideas mattered in speaking than writing.
Actors don't face that temptation, except in the rare cases where they've written the script, but any speaker does.
Before I give a talk I can usually be found sitting in a corner somewhere with a copy printed out on paper, trying to rehearse it in my head.