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How To Speak Like An Arrogant Snob


VoicePro, Public Speaking, Communication Skillsby Scott Danielson



VoicePro, Communication Skills, Public SpeakingIn your lifetime, you’ll run into a lot of snobbish people. Most of the time you’ll experience something subtle, like a judgmental look when you wear the wrong outfit or eat junk food, or a scoff when you tell a friend your favorite song is, “Eye of the Tiger.” I know I’m guilty of snobbery, because I gag out loud when someone tells me he/she watches MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Regardless of the time, place, or situation, the message is clear: I am judging you. And I am better than you.

However, not all snobbish behavior is a reaction to personal preferences in music, movies and food. There are surefire ways to talk down to your presentation audience like you’re a true member of the high and mighty elite.

Use Flowery Language & Technical Terminology

As I author this composition, I earnestly yearn to overwhelm my readers with my incalculable vocabulary (and mastery of Microsoft Word’s thesaurus).

In an effort to sound intelligent, novice speakers often load their speeches with language straight from Shakespeare. There’s only one problem: Your audience isn’t there for a staged reading of Hamlet. Therefore, an excess of overblown, unfamiliar language will make your presentation difficult to follow and leave them feeling less intelligent.

Technical jargon can be a similar problem. Using industry specific abbreviations and terminology among experts is a great way to indicate, “I’m one of you.” By contrast, an audience that barely knows what Facebook is will be lost immediately if your first sentence mentions the switch to “Timeline.”

When you’re preparing your speech, be sure to ask yourself if your wording is appropriate for your intended audience.

Find A Way to Insult Them

Almost everyone knows a good lawyer joke or two (half of them probably include references to reptiles). So, of course it would be great for me to open a speech to a bunch of lawyers with a couple of light jabs at their profession. There’s just one problem: I’m not a lawyer.

Telling a joke at the expense of other people is insulting. Regardless of your best intentions, it’s a surefire way to lose their respect. If you are going to tease your audience in any way, make sure it’s at your own expense. Doctors can tease doctors and lawyers can tease lawyers. Anything else is one-sided and mean-spirited, because the audience has no means of fighting back.

Put Your Audience Down

While using fancy language and jargon is an attempt to put yourself above your audience, treating them like simple minded fools is demeaning. Even novice speakers know not to call the crowd a bunch of idiots, but there are more innocent speaking habits that have terrible implications. 

Some speakers begin their speeches with a rhetorical question the audience has no way of answering. It’s a simple attempt to be provocative and get people thinking. However the message conveyed is, “I’m sooooo much smarter than you.” Likewise, sales people will very subtly try to put down their competitors, a tactic that is a real turnoff if your customer currently buys from them. Motivational speakers are similarly guilty when they imply everyone is living life the wrong way and needs to make drastic changes. And if you want to clear the room of good vibes, just use an excessive amount of sarcasm.

Inexperienced speakers worry about themselves and what the audience will think of them. As a result, many of them sound like snobs as they try to dazzle their audience with a huge vocabulary, jokes, and provocative gimmicks. If you truly want to impress your audience, speak to them as an equal and always keep their point of view in mind. 

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Image provided by Jeremy Brooks


Great title for this article
Posted @ Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:16 AM by Jon Ferrell
Great post! I was at a conference recently where the first presenter out of the gate sounded like he was speaking a foreign language. I read the dense text on all his slides to see if I could decode what he was saying. Not a clue. I finally concluded that I simply wasn't his target audience.  
Then the break came.  
Turns out no one else had any idea what he was talking about either. Another presenter later summed up and explained (in normal words) what the first guy had been trying to communicate. Stripped of the alienating jargon, the presenter had interesting information to share ... unfortunately, it took an "interpreter" for the audience to see that!
Posted @ Wednesday, May 23, 2012 3:29 PM by Lauren Hug
I work with a speaker who sometimes suffer from all of these during the same presentation. The problem is that he doesn't realize he is doing this. He doesn't read audience body language very well at all. Great article - if you have any idea how to solve the condescension problem I'd love to hear your point of view!
Posted @ Thursday, May 24, 2012 3:45 PM by Michelle Mazur
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