Learn the Lessons of Sherlock Holmes to improve your public speaking

How to avoid a Sherlock moment – Investigate your language

I have sympathy for Benedict Cumberbatch and the situation he finds himself in at the moment. It appears to be a circumstance where one, poorly chosen, word has landed him in hot water. And, the positive message he was trying to communicate has been lost in a flurry of condemnation for his choice of a single word.


During an interview on an American TV network he used the term “coloured” to describe black actors. Social commentators are up in arms at the phrase. Ironically, Benedict Cumberbatch was trying to communicate a message highlighting the better opportunities that black actors have in the United States compared to the United Kingdom; to illustrate that work needs to be done with regards to black actors getting major roles in Britain. Sadly, that message has been lost in the condemnation of Benedict!


How can you avoid a similar situation when you are presenting your message to an audience?


If only Benedict had been more aware of his audience and appreciated the language they need or want to hear a message communicated to them in.


How can you avoid the mistake that Benedict made to improve your presentations? Firstly, take the time to analyse your audience so you know who they are, what their key interests are, and most importantly are there any “hot button” topics you should avoid or be aware of.


Once you know this you can review your speech and presentation with these factors in mind so you can assess the presentation and the words you will say when you deliver the presentation to ensure you avoid any “hot button” or contentious language.


By taking the time to simply understand your audience and considering the language you will use in your presentation you will be able to communicate your message more effectively.

Mark Kyte
Mark Kyte is a public speaking mentor and founder of the Public Speaking Skills Academy. Mark loves helping clients achieve dynamic results that help them increase their influence and get more clients. Read more of his blog and if you like what you see check out the mentoring programs.