How Not To Kickoff A Speech

Last Updated Apr 16, 2009 8:30 AM EDT

What's the worst way to start a speech?

By telling your audience that you prepared for the talk at the last minute -- or not at all.

As Tammy Erickson blogs on Harvard Business Publishing:

At a minimum, this demonstrates a lack of respect for the importance of the event or other participants. In most cases, you also decrease the authority of your conclusions.
(Erickson has several other good tips on when it's better to keep your mouth shut.)

Have you had this experience as a presenter, or misread the room to the extent that you lost your audience in the first 60 seconds? How did you recover? What did you learn from that experience?

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.