Negative Reinforcement Hinders Public Speaking

Planning on taking a Speakers course?  Keep this in mind:
Negative reinforcement does NOT work!

Many speakers training groups/courses have training methods that are riddled throughout with negative reinforcement techniques.  For example, if a speaker happens to utter "ahhh" or "ummm", then a trainer or assistant makes a loud buzzing sound, or a beep sound, or flashes signs as a way of telling them... "Stop that! That's a bad behavior!"

Negative reinforcement is the perfect recipe for lowering a speaker's confidence and self-esteem.  When training speakers, I prefer to ignore unwanted habits initially, so as not to interrupt a speaker's natural flow.  Then, after a presentation is over, I'll celebrate the best things I liked about what they did, then offer a brief mention of something that could be eliminated or phased out, followed finally by a method or two that I know will help them achieve changes in an optimal direction.  Finally, I'll end my feedback by directing their attention towards something they probably hadn't yet thought of doing.  The vast majority of that feedback is positive and constructive.

More importantly, I'm not flagrantly interrupting their ability to flow while trying to nurture the very same.  Why is this important?  Because negative reinforcement makes it harder to stay on track with your thinking while on stage (it creates anticipation for pattern-interrupts, which hinders internal accessing patterns).

If you don't yet believe me 100% on this, read the wonderful book "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor, and then consider the implications of using negative reinforcement, in light of the above book, and in light of how NLP anchoring works. Negative reinforcement for training speakers actually trains dysfunctional speaking patterns.

How come so many speakers courses aren't at least 80% positive re-inforcement-based?

This mystifies me, it really does.


Author: Jonathan Altfeld