Friday, April 11, 2014

#TwitterSpam Part 1, with Many Gratuitous References to Lord of the Rings

Why is there so much bad speaking advice on Twitter?

By Steven S. Vrooman

You know you’ve seen the tweets. Maybe you even RTed them. Thanks to TweetDeck and Hootsuite and ContentGems, all the wannabe Guy Kawasakis out there blister out a link to same daily barrage of blog posts that have a list of tips for speaking. I call it TwitterSpam. Most of those tips, just like most of your public speaking textbooks, are BAD!

Why?

Because most of this advice is written by extroverts who don't remember what it's like to be nervous. They love the rush of the crowd. They are writing blogs to sell their consulting services (Um, well, good thing that's not happening here . . . .), which are BUSINESSES THAT ALLOW THEM TO CONSTANTLY SPEAK IN PUBLIC! 

They are elves of speaking, like Legolas tiptoeing across the snow, while we are the sad, freezing hobbits just trying to not die:

From Peter Jackson's (2001) The Fellowship of the Ring
Here's a sample of TwitterSpam advice on reducing nervousness:
Melisande Maquet Jarlath Regan Jenn Godbout Ross Simmonds
Be prepared Get over yourself Make eye contact often. Talk Slower
Do thorough research Embarrassment is fleeting, regret lasts a lifetime Smile. Control Your Reactions
Practice your speech It’s a story to tell Breathe.  Think of Dying
Invite an audience for a private presentation. Don’t try to be funny Practice.  Identify Your
Strengths and
Weaknesses
Who cares? Keep it simple. Embrace
Praise & Criticism
Dress to Impress
Some of this advice is fine. Some is even good, but can't you tell that this really is advice from extroverts to fellow extroverts? Who is the person who will read any of this and say, "Yep, that's IT!! I just have never PRACTICED!!! That and constant thoughts of DEATH will make it all better!!!"

Twitter is filled with elf advice for elves.

The extroverts of the world are having a giant drinking game with the introverts. And while the introverts pass out, like Gimli, the gurus are telling us:

From Peter Jackson's (2002) The Two Towers, via http://media3.giphy.com/media/B1UkrExj9MseY/200_s.gif
I am not an elf.  

I have taught public speaking for 20 years, but I have always been a nervous speaker. I try to be an extrovert, but it is exhausting. Over those 20 years, I read all that advice in the table above in Intro to Public Speaking textbooks that didn't help people in my classes feel better then either.

I am a ranger, cloaked in the corner, judging everyone. I am a pessimist. I have a cool cloak shrouding my eyes. 

When I finally tell you what I think, it will probably sound nasal and mean. But I've rescued feckless hobbits before. And I won't lie to you about how long the walk is going to be.

From Peter Jackson's (2001) The Fellowship of the Ring

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