Public Speaking – a mountain without a peak


I don’t like it.

I like Florien Mueck.

If you can get to his YouTube channel, do, he’s worth watching.

But I wish he hadn’t said that, or hadn’t been quoted as saying that.

Starting with a negative.

No, there is no perfection.

I live in a household of sporting people, and the shelves are lined with trophies. In any sporting competition, there are distinct winners and losers. A swimming race, say, takes a measured amount of time and the fastest wins. Simple and cut-and-dried (usually!)

A speech on the other hand … well! I have won many speaking competitions since about the age of 12. I have lost just as many. People come to me afterwards and tell me they thought I won. Sometimes I agreed, sometimes not. Despite the number of very well articulated criteria, there will always be that element of subjectivity involved. I know. I also judge!

So if there is no cut-and-dried “best” speaker, how can there ever be a “perfect” speaker, or a perfect speech?

Perfect according to whom? Perfect according to what criteria?

What if, on the other hand, we went to the second part of this quote and look at a speaking high.

What does that look like? What does that feel like?

To me, it feels like being in flow

– speaking fluently and with enthusiasm

– connecting with members of the audience so that they respond with emotion, or they participate

– it can feel powerful

– it can feel gratifying

– it can feel something close to perfection

And if we looked at the audience members after the speech, they would be doing what we, as speakers, aimed to have them do – repeating, remembering, rehiring, buying, changing, being motivated, or any number of other things we had designed.

It’s what keeps me speaking, meeting the challenge to be the best I can be, to climb higher and higher towards

no, not a mountain top,

not a peak

not perfection even, whatever that may be,

but certainly to more highs and greater heights.

And of course the corollary is that we all need to avoid becoming complacent, thinking that there is no better in us, no better experience we an provide, no need to strive or create anything new or better.

So, yes, Florian, I agree with you, and the quote stirred me to do that!!

And it’s what I want for all of us here – you, Florian, me and all of our fellow speakers and readers.

[Quotation about Public Speaking] No audience ever complained …

“No audience ever complained about a presentation or speech being too short”
― Stephen Keague, The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking and Presenting


[Quotation about public speaking] Public speaking will have its place

“As long as there are human rights to be defended; as long as there are great interests to be guarded; as long as the welfare of nations is a matter for discussion so long will public speaking have it place.” ~ William Jennings Bryan

Public speaking has its place

In my current obsession with storytelling, I have discovered a Hopi Proverb which says the “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

Leaders everywhere are those who give their followers something to believe in, a narrative that explains the present and paints a future.

And leaders are not just those in government or religion.

They lead in business, they lead in our institutions, they lead in our families.

We all have the capacity to be a leader at some time.

I am only thankful that the skills of public speaking are there to give us the power to lead and to create a world with values that we can uphold.

[Quotation about public speaking] Mr. Churchill on after-dinner speeches

“There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.”

— Winston Churchill

churchill statue

Ah Mr. Churchill! He created resonance with the audience, knowing that most find speeches difficult, intrigued them with the mention of two things, and used wonderful “rhetoric” with his phrases that repeated structure and image. What a speaker!

[Quotation about public speaking] Understanding and communicating the essence of things

“….. understanding and communicating the essence of things is difficult,

takes a lot of thought, and has a big impact.”

— Carly Fiorina


Carly Fiorina

















  Fiorina served as chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard 
 from 1999 to 2005 and previously was an executive at AT&T

Image: "CarlyFiorina49416" by Antônio Milena/AB - Agência Brasil [1].
 Licensed under CC-BY-3.0-br via Wikimedia Commons.


[Public Speaking Quotation] … for Sweet Benjamin


“Imprison it”…? Hmm. My mother used to say to me “Put your words on the palm of your hand and look at them before you speak.” I liked that. Sweet Benjamin needs to guard against speaking without thinking.

If he’s going to be a speaker, he needs to consider his message and his audience before he speaks.

But “imprison” …? What do you think?

[Public speaking quotation] Value in visuals

“Presenters using visuals conduct meetings in 28% less time, increase audience retention as much as five times, and get proposals approved twice as often”

~ Claire Raines and Linda Williamson

[Public speaking quote] … “thinking on your feet” … or not!

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.”

– George Jessel

… so I say TG for rehearsal. It has saved me more times than I care to count!!

How to win audience support for your cause

“In public speaking, we must appeal either to the prejudices of others, or to the love of truth and justice. If we think merely of displaying our own ability, we shall ruin every cause we undertake.”

William Hazlitt

[Public Speaking quotation] Once you get people laughing

Quote about laughter from Herbert Gardner