I was just at a meeting where a brilliant speaker made the
classic mistake of making a point backwards from the audience’s
point of view.

He used a pole as a prop and held it horizontal to the ground to
simulate a time line of human life. He touched the pole on the
end to represent childhood then ran his finger along the middle
of the pole to represent adulthood and touched the other end of
the pole to show where old age would be.

The problem was, he started at the wrong end of the pole. From
his perspective everything was perfect. He started childhood to
“his” left and finished with old age to “his” right. From the
perspective of an English speaking audience (the members of which
read left to right) this was backwards. If you were sitting in
his audience, you saw old age where childhood would have been
and vice versa.

This mistake falls in the category of what I call a brainstopper
(Vol 2 Num 8 http://www.antion.com/ezinebackissues2000.htm )When
you do something or say something that causes and audience
member’s thought pattern to stop, he/she doesn’t hear what you
say next. In this case the backwards display of time would have
audience members thinking about the wrong order instead of the
point the speaker was trying to make. I could even see some
people in the crowd whispering to each other about it when he did

Think from the audience’s point of view when you make a similar
display that has a logical sequence. You will have to reverse the
display from your point of view for it to make sense to the

Great Tips For Beginning Speakers!

Tagged with:

Filed under: public speaking

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!