April 3, 2019

Public Speaking Sins: Verbal Flatulence

Cardinal Sins , Strictly Speaking , The Buckley Experience , Instruction

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."


"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed."

– Kanye West, making the case for self-awareness and cutting the fluff


Cardinal Sin 4: Spurn rhetorical flourishes.

Fluff language, filler talk, sheer verbosity, spurn them.

"I'd like to begin by." Begin, damnit! Don't hem and haw.

"I submit to you." If you mean that, you don't know what you're saying.

"My distinguished college." Oh, balls.

"If you will." Not on your life, baby!

"Think about it!"


More on Such Banes

"Think about it!" has become a plague. When used to sum up a thought, the adjuration is usually accompanied by a portentous frown and a Nixonian shaking of the wattles. It assumes a moral superiority that is quite indefensible.

In this same category belongs the deadly phrase "Let me share with you..." I don't want it. Keep it to yourself. Don't impose on me your compulsion to regurgitate your miserable soul.

When one hears that awful, touchy-feely, falsely humble ingratiations, one knows that one is in for a slathering of sentimentality or a revelation of such gruesomely intimately character that it transgresses decency. Larry King.

Share nothing from the stage or banquet table. Let me tell you about sharing. One can share a blanket, split peas, a cookie, a seat, knowledge. Once may even share a Kleenex, in a pinch.

One cannot share pain ("Have some, it's on me!"), an experience, an emotion, an idea, an intellectual state, an opinion, good taste or bad.

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