Basic Public Speaking Etiquette

The next time you give a speech or presentation and are introduced by someone, wait until that person sits down before you start talking.

Too often, many speakers overlook this most basic aspect of public speaking etiquette. The result is usually something along the lines of the following scenario:

  • Jane gives a nice introduction to Joe who is giving the main talk.
  • Joe walks to the podium, shakes Jane’s hand and gives her a warm smile.
  • Jane smiles back and turns to leave the stage.
  • No sooner is Jane’s back turned than Joe starts talking to the audience. Often the first words out of Joe’s mouth will be a “thank you” to Jane.
  • Jane – who is still on stage, with her back turned to Joe and moving away from him – looks back and signals her recognition of Joe’s thanks.
  • Joe continues with his talk.
  • Jane tries to get to her chair as quickly as possible.

This is awkward, distracting and unnecessary.

Perhaps Joe does this because he is nervous; perhaps he does it because he is eager to share his talk with the audience. It doesn’t matter – Joe is demonstrating bad public speaking etiquette.

Whenever you are introduced by another person, have the courtesy and the poise to wait until that person is seated before you begin speaking. It might seem like a long wait to you, but in reality it will only be a few seconds.

What do you do while waiting? Smile at your audience. Take a deep breath. Get used to the atmosphere. You will appear calm and in control, and will make a good first impression. And your audience will not be distracted by the movement of the person who introduced you.

If you are particularly concerned about this aspect of your presentation, speak to the person who will introduce you beforehand. Let him know that you will not begin your talk until he has taken his seat. Coordinating with him beforehand will help ensure that he does not dawdle on the way back!


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in Delivery, Toastmasters and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Basic Public Speaking Etiquette

  1. Sushma says:

    It was great Thank you for sharing.

  2. MOHANRAJ says:

    It was great and now I am glad to know this simple and useful thing.


  3. Liz Otieno says:

    Am glad to have read this. Some mistakes I have done unknowingly and am glad now I know. I will share with others.

  4. Daniel says:

    great revelation

  5. Eric Aggrey-Quashie says:

    It good to note these basic rules we take for granted. Thanks.

  6. Such a simple but important point. Thank you!

  7. Bob Turel says:

    Well stated John, and it goes right along with clapping/applauding a speaker until s/he reaches the lectern or returns to her seat.

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