Seth Godin brought to our attention the issue of people apologizing before their talks.  I’ll rate this a TTPP (Top Ten Pet Peeve), and generalize further. It’s not just about egregious time overshoots, but any element that requires the perceived need to apologize:

    • I’m sorry I’m so scattered”
    • “I’m sorry you can’t read this”
    • “I’m sorry I don’t have handouts”
    • “I’m sorry you have to listen to this”
    • “I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to prepare” 
Apologizing from the lectern should be restricted to elements that:
  • affect and are noticed by the entire audience,
  • are under the speaker’s control,
  • drive feeling and goodwill towards an acceptance for the issue and point at hand

The vast majority of apologies are self-centered, nervous, delaying tactics with no purpose or need whatsoever.  Unless the audience will likely refuse to hear a word spoken, a talk should never start with an apology.  And a phrase to strike from your arsenal is, “I apologize in advance…” which can be translated as “I really don’t care a bit about you as an audience and will do whatever I want.”  Another general rule for any recompense (including apology) is that it should match the crime.  Don’t apologize to an audience of 500 for a sin against one (and also don’t apologize to one when the sin was committed in front of 500).

Make apologies brief, appropriate, and seldom when speaking publicly

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