The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Speaking

SpeakerHub
5 min readFeb 16, 2023

We’ve all heard of the seven deadly sins, whether that’s because we’ve studied the classics or seen through popular culture.

In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at the seven deadly sins of public speaking, and it’s time for us to let you in on a secret. The seven deadly sins of public speaking are the same as the regular seven sins, they just get applied a little differently.

We’re also going to share the seven virtues, which have historically acted as the opposites of the sins and provided a pointer as to how we should act.

Here’s how it all comes together.

1. Lust

Lust is perhaps the hardest of the traditional seven deadly sins to tie back to public speaking, but hear us out. While lust is usually associated with romantic and sexual lust, it can also apply to any intense yearning for something, and that includes an object or an experience. Many public speakers who struggle with the sin of lust have an unnaturally large desire to take to the stage and will talk about literally anything, whether it’s relevant to them and their audience or not.

Virtue: Chastity: The secret to conquering lust as a public speaker is to save yourself for the events that really matter. Doing this can actually create a stronger personal brand because it creates a sense of exclusivity.

2. Gluttony

We all know about gluttony, but it doesn’t have to only refer to binging on food and drink. It can refer to the excessive consumption of anything, from alcohol to unnecessarily expensive hotel rooms. Sure, when we’re spending a lot of time on the road, we want our creature comforts, but it can also be easy to go overboard. When that happens, it’s usually our performance on the stage that suffers.

Virtue: Temperance: Temperance doesn’t have to mean never eating a nice dinner or sharing a bottle of champagne with someone. As with most things, moderation is key.

3. Greed

Greed is fairly self-explanatory, and it can easily derail you as a public speaker if you get greedy when negotiating your fee or demanding concessions. Don’t be that clichéd rock star who asks for 1,000 brown M&Ms, and don’t price yourself out of the market by getting too greedy. But while we’re on the subject, you’ll also want to remember to charge what you’re worth.

Virtue: Charity: One way to combat greed is to occasionally do speaking gigs for free if they’re for a good cause. You can also be charitable when it comes to giving people your time.

4. Sloth

In modern terms, sloth is essentially the sin of laziness, and we all fall victim to it at some point or other. We need to be aware of the temptation to take shortcuts or to do less work than we need to, and combat that where we can to make sure that we’re always performing at our best, whether we’re talking to two people or 2,000.

Virtue: Diligence: Diligence is fairly self-explanatory. Everything that you do needs to be done with diligence to make sure that you’re doing what you do to the best of your ability.

5. Wrath

Wrath is basically anger, especially when it’s excessive or directed at people who don’t deserve it. As a public speaker, it can be easy to lose our patience and to get angry with people, especially if they’re reacting to our talks with hostility. We can also show anger at other people in our industry or at the world in general, which is never a good look. Some public speakers have been able to build a career out of their anger, but it’s very hard to make it work, and often comes with ethical considerations such as avoiding ‘othering’ people or kicking down.

Virtue: Patience: We can combat the urge to become wrathful by trying to display patience in everything that we do. If we approach everything with patience, we reduce the chances of flying off the handle or being unprofessional when we come up against any form of criticism.

6. Envy

Envy is self-explanatory, and we’ve all fallen prey to it at one point or another. When public speakers are envious, they look at the platforms that other people are given and feel jealous of them. They’re also often not too subtle about it, and that’s never a good look.

Virtue: Gratitude: Instead of being jealous of what other people have, the key to combating envy is to be grateful for what we have. Some public speakers think that it’s a competitive landscape in which the only way to be successful is to cut down other people. Instead, we can build a culture where everybody wins — and where we’re all grateful for what we have.

7. Pride

It’s natural for us to take a certain amount of pride in what we do, and indeed it’s healthy if we want to celebrate our accomplishments and acknowledge how far we’ve come. At the same time, there’s such a thing as having too much pride, and when that happens, we can come across as boastful and arrogant.

Virtue: Humility: To avoid having too much pride in ourselves, we can practice humility and try to be humble about our achievements. That doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate them, but it does mean that we should stay grounded and acknowledge the people who helped us out along the way.

Conclusion

Now that you know our thoughts on the seven deadly sins of public speaking, we want to hear from you. What do you think of our analysis, and do you agree that the original seven deadly sins are still applicable? Or would you add one or two of your own?

As always, we’d love to hear from you, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments so that we can keep the discussion going. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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