Do You Make These 5 Speaking Mistakes?

Many of the failures in leadership are failures to communicate well.

No matter how smart we are or how good our strategies are, they are doomed for failure if no one understands them.

In previous articles, I dealt with poor written grammar, so much so that some of my friends refer to me as “the grammar cop.” In this article, I deal with five of the more common communication mistakes made by leaders when they speak.

1. Poor grammar.

Grammatical mistakes are not limited to written communication. They are much too common when leaders speak as well, including some leaders who are highly educated and in positions of great influence.

The most common speaking grammatical error that I have noticed in recent years is the incorrect use of reflexive pronouns. For example, the reflexive pronoun “myself” is used improperly in this sentence: “The award was presented to Janice, John and myself.” The correct pronoun is the nonreflexive “me.”

2. Too much information.

An audience can only absorb a limited number of facts in a given presentation. Some leaders attempt to cover a multitude of items, leaving the hearers bored, confused and frustrated.

Speak to the essential issues and provide supplementary written material if necessary.

3. Too many visuals.

PowerPoint and other visual aids can be either a help or a hindrance to a speaker.

Too often leaders try to put too much information in visual aids. At that point, the aid becomes a barrier to communication.

Consider having no more than one visual aid for each three minutes of speaking. You might be surprised how much the retention of your listeners improves.

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

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