Public Speaking Myth #2: Proper English is Not All That Important

Listen to this Post. Powered by

I heard it with my very own ears. And what’s even more distressing is that I heard it uttered by an attendee during a break in a workshop I was giving. When challenged by another student, he cited as proof of his statement the sloppy-to-abominable English heard by us all in our everyday lives.

  • Major political figures who mispronounce common words.
  • Media pundits who love to increase their pundancy by saying “very, very” when one simple “very” serves the purpose perfectly well. If they further transgress and utter “very unique”, they slide off my personal list of educated persons. (I’m sure you know that the word unique cannot be modified in any way; the thing being described as “unique” either is one-of-a-kind or it is merely “very unusual”.)
  • The urge to lengthen words, phases, sentences seems to overwhelm our society, some of which appear to feel that worth of content equals length of content.
  • The prevalence of poor spoken and written English does not mitigate the fact that it has an adverse effect, which needs to be considered by those who speak to others in order to get a positive effect.

    People differ in their awareness of word usage and speech patterns. What drives some people batty may leave another person completely untouched–or at least undisturbed. However, there are many listeners who, when they have heard particular grammar errors or awkward syntax, downgrade the value of the message itself.

    It’s worth spending some time and energy to learn correct grammar and correct pronunciation. Dictionaries are readily available in print and on line. There are several excellent, easy to read books on English grammar; one of my favorites being,”Between You and I: a little book of bad english”, by James Cochrane.

    It’s worth knowing how to avoid using language that is an affront to educated listeners and which turns them off to the strength of your message. To be considered a successful speaker, you must be adept at capturing the attention of your audience, persuading them to a certain point of view, or rousing them to action.

    To achieve your goal, they must take you seriously.


    Carole McMichaels: Speaker, Therapist, Musician, Coach, Author: “Fearless Public Speaking: How to Get Rid of Your Stage Fright and Prepare and Deliver a Winning Presentation”, invites you to to visit her website and download your free report, “How to Write a Mind-Gripping Speech”.

    Leave a Reply