Adrian Plass wrote briefly about his two rules of public speaking. I read them last night in the book “Seriously Funny” and loved their simplicity, here they are:

1) Never adapt

Simply: be yourself. Be who you are confident, well, being.

2) Always adapt

Be willing and ready to adjust what *you* want to say to meet the needs of the audience and where you are in that moment.


Perhaps more juxtaposition. That we deny the need to show ourselves off, and be willing to adapt – and serve – the audience.

I love how gloriously simple those two ideas are.

Doing 1 means you can focus more on 2 (and actually knowing what you’re talking about). If you’re not trying to pretend to be one of your heroes of presenting then you’re more likely to relax. As we’re in the moment, we’re more able to deliver a great talk.

Last year, on a company intranet, I asked people what was memorable about the last talk they heard. 90% of people who replied said it was the authenticity of the speaker that did it for them. A great place to start then – be yourself. Don’t wear a mask!

And the respect you show your audience – in your preparation of content, practicing your delivery and the permission you give yourself to adjust on-the-fly – all helps make your talk more compelling.

One more?

While there’s a few other thoughts I have, there one that I want to add to this couplet right now is “why”. When you have a positive idea of “why” you want to deliver a great talk and why your audience should care about the content then you’ll be focussed on the outcomes that work for both of you.

Be you so that authenticity is the – adapt how you tell your story to your audience, with your “why” as a way to navigate the flexibility. Easy…. ;->

What do you think of Adrian Plass’ two rules? What would be your “one more”?

Let’s explore

I’ll explore these ideas and loads more at my next workshop. 21 February will be a resource-packed day of looking at how stories work, why they matter and how you can tell them really well.

Find out more

One Reply to “Adapting”

Leave a Reply