Must-Read: How To Not Make A Public Speaking Gaffe

If you were watching the Republican debates a few nights ago, you witnessed one of the most incredibly succinct crash-and-burn moments of a politician’s presidential hopes in history. If you didn’t see Rick Perry stumble and bumble through his talking points, then here, let us bring you up to speed.

The problem wasn’t so much that he made a mistake and couldn’t remember what he was talking about so much as the large stage that he was doing it on. We all have brain farts and get tongue-tied, but we’re not doing it in front of millions of viewers while, oh yeah, running for President. Luckily, what we have here is a teaching moment. What can we learn from the Rick Perry “Oops” debacle?

Over at, they have a handful of public speaking tips you should keep in mind next time you’re in the office delivering an important speech. Or, you know, on national TV running for President. Here’s a sample:

In the famous words of Strunk and White, “Omit needless words.” What qualifies as needless? Anything that strays from your main point and contributes to a muddy, convoluted sentence. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is strike parts you really like, but if they don’t directly contribute to your main theme, you need to lose them. Active verbs in particular provide a prime way to economize.

Instead of saying, “Comrade General Secretary, in this instant I demand that this geo-political mortar-and-metaphorical hindrance be retracted,” Ronald Reagan simply said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Head over to the link above for the rest.


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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.

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