I’m Sorry, But I Have to Say This
According to the New Oxford American dictionary:
- occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention)
Speakers understand that to be most effective, they must engage their audiences. And it doesn’t take a veteran speaker to realize that apologizing does not occupy, attract, or involve someone’s interest or attention. Then why, oh why, do so many speakers stand in front of their audiences and apologize?
I cringe every time I hear things like:
- I’m sorry. I’m not prepared.
- I’m sorry, but I left my notes on my desk.
- I’m sorry. I’m not very good at this.
- I apologize; I’m very nervous.
- I’m sorry, but I’m not used to speaking in front of such a large group.
- I’m sorry, but I just put this together and haven’t had time to practice.
- I’m sorry for the delay, but this is the first time I’ve used this equipment.
- I apologize for the quality of my slides.
- I’m sorry for how long this is taking.
- I’m sorry for running out of time before finishing.
- I’m sorry for running over my time.
- I’m sorry, I had a few more things to tell you, but I ran out of time.
- I’m sorry if I’ve bored you.
- I’m sorry if I’ve confused you.
To be fair, an apology does not necessarily condemn a presentation. On the other hand, I know that I have never seen an apology that engages the audience.