This is one of my TTPP (Top Ten Pet Peeve’s). Tonite’s example was my nephew’s middle school band concert. Three separate times the band director said something to the effect of “Before we get started, I’d like to…” This has at least two problems.First, once the presenter starts talking, he’s already started. He can’t unstart a start. I’ve seen Toastmasters who are on the clock start talking and say things like, “don’t start timing yet.” But their listeners have already started listening, and they have to wonder why the rules don’t apply, when the official start is going to happen, and more importantly, what this can do to the end. It’s a major strike on the first pitch.Second, it’s phrased in the context of the presenter, which is a clear violation of Rule #1. Honestly, the audience doesn’t care what he wants to do. Most will oblige the band director a chance to pass out accolades and thoughts on the last concert of the year, to be sure, but even that has limits. The employees listening to a CEO are more concerned with the implications to themselves than what the CEO thinks; the meeting chair’s thoughts pale when considered against the committee’s wishes; the child doesn’t give much credence to what the parent wants. All of us, as listeners, want to know how it applies to #1, which is why Rule #1 is about them.Another problem is the lead-in opening statement is weak. It doesn’t catch attention; it doesn’t reinforce a point; it doesn’t cause the audience to think; it doesn’t set anything up for later. In short, it doesn’t do anything (positive).
Don’t talk about anything before a start, unless it’s private, and truly before the start.
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