September 25, 2019

Public Speaking Sins: Failing to Respect Your Audience

Cardinal Sins , Strictly Speaking , Presentation Tips , The Buckley Experience

Reid Buckley’s "Strictly Speaking" was published by McGraw-Hill 10 years after Reid founded The Buckley School. Drawing on his decade of work with students, Reid designed it to be used as a reference for any speaking situation, so that a person could read as much or as little as needed. In 2019, we’re publishing excerpts from the first chapter in our online magazine: "10 Cardinal Sins that Amateurs Commit."


"I respect the audience’s intelligence a lot, and that’s why I don’t try to go for the lowest common denominator."

– Spike Lee

Cardinal Sin 9:

Never fail to treat every member of your audience as the juror over your conscience, for whom you will exert your best effort proving the validity and justice of your case.

Humility of spirit is the vital attribute of the speaker. Conceit is his enemy. The speaker who disrespects his audience (dumb clucks that they may be) is a fool.

Condescension on the part of the speaker can forfeit everything

This was former Senator Bob Dole’s weakness in the 1996 campaign. He allowed the perception that those who don’t agree with him can’t tell the difference between a mud slide and mudslinging. That may have been the case, but it’s rude nevertheless, and it lost him California.

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