WNA Blog






Wed 21 Oct 2020

How To Sound Apologetic: No Matter What You Intended

Business Consulting & Coaching
I decided recently to start a conversation firmly focussed on being completely UNAPOLOGETIC whenever I spoke…

But first it is important to share just how you may be unconsciously apologising to your audience from the moment you take to the stage.



1. You have just moments to make an impact 

As you open you have just moments to make an impact. This is not the time to introduce yourself and why you are here – ‘Hi, my name is Jacqueline and I want to talk to you about resilience’.  Don’t tell me – show me. Open straight into a story that is going to get attention.  Don’t open softly, telling people something they already know, because that subtly tells us you are pleading with us to listen to you.  You’ve just opened with an unconscious apology for taking up our time. 

 2. Ditch the Opening Question 

At the Global Speakers Summit in Auckland 2018, Fredrik Haren – a global speaking powerhouse – left a lasting impression with one piece of advice. Do not open with a question unless you know at least 90% of your audience will answer yes or no. Ireally is an absolute with aspiring speakers because it instantly made sense. In the first few moments you are working to have your audience trust you, to believe they should give you their time. The last thing you want is their minds going off on tangents pondering the question you just asked – in the exact moments you have to bring them in to you. Open with complete and utter certainty – with a no apology attitude – and take us from there. 

 3. Stop Responding to the Energy of the Room 

In 2017 when acting as the support speaker to an international keynote speaker out of New York came an important example. After each event the keynote would chat through his feedback, but the most powerful came after the final event – a flat room with low energy; and it was easy to respond in kind. His words were ‘you are the speaker. It is not your responsibility to respond to the energy of the room. It is your responsibility to set the energy of the room’. Don’t wait for permission from the floor – and don’t be distracted by it. 

 4. Don’t Sweat It In Front Of Me 

Don’t open with “I’m not good at this’, ‘I’m so nervous’, ‘this is my first time so please be kind’We want your success; if we can see you are nervous we’ll work with you so long as we can hear your passion and your desire to share your knowledge. People are not going to work against you at any stage – unless you ask for their sympathy first, and then that is probably all they are going to give you. Take a deep breath and ditch the apology. 

 5. Fans Won’t Write You Cheques 

There is an unhealthy mix of frustration and amusement when we see emerging speakers get carried away with a little bit of ‘fandom’. Suddenly there is more engagement on line and with a lot of ‘you’re so good’, so emerging speakers can get sidetracked. It becomes more about social engagement than social proof – and social proof can only happen when you ‘do it in real life’. It is not in the online following, the likes, and the comments that you will turn speaking into a successful business or career strategy; nor in sharing stages with celebrities.  It is turning up, in real life – getting real time, real world feedback so that you can push beyond ‘you’re so good’ to being booked – over and over again. Focus on the fans and the only way back to ‘in real life’ will be a road littered with an apology and diminished certainty. 

 None of us are perfect; we all default – one client, crafting her second keynote sent through her draft script for review. The response came within seconds with the question – Where do you think your first mistake may be? She responded with a string of laughing emojis and the sentence the first d^^n line! She had made the mistake of taking the audience with an introduction of herself and to list her background.  

 You will eventually eliminate the unconscious apology. In the meantime, just get quicker at catching it and ditching it! 

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