As a speaking coach for many years, I have worked with business executives, entrepreneurs, politicians, and even CEOS, and I have consistently seen my clients make the same mistakes. It does make my job easier, as I almost always know what went wrong and what drove someone to go to my website and call me. These mistakes are easily avoidable but most inexperienced or poor speakers simply have so many misconceptions about “public speaking” that they repeat these same mistakes over and over. So be different than them and learn from the following ten worst mistakes that speakers make.
- A Really Weak and Unimpressive Start
Often speakers look down, mumble, and apologize. Even worse, they spend way too much time on boring inanities such as excessive thank yous and introductions instead of being passionate, informative, and entertaining.
- No Clear Message or Theme
Speakers often wander all over the place instead of describing a problem, using stories, proposing a solution, and finishing with a strong call for action. All of the greatest speakers know the secret: one clear idea presented concisely and with vision.
- Overuse of Data, Statistics, and Charts
No speaker can possibly develop an “emotional connection” if he or she is spending all their time with boring details that no one cares about. As a trial attorney for many years, I’m often asked by young attorneys if I use visual aids. With rare exceptions, the answer for me is NO. The reason is simple. When I present a closing argument I don’t want to compete with visual aids. I want to look the jury in the eye and make a visceral emotional connection. Poor speakers often use visual aids as a crutch and that prevents them from making the critical emotional connection.
- Lack of Passion
Delivering a speech or presentation with a boring monotone is a guarantee of failure as a speaker and presenter. Every great communicator brings passion to their speech by communicating a vision and a message that resonates with their audience.
- Excessive Use of Powerpoint
Powerpoint is simply a crutch for speakers who often use way too many slides with way too many words. The speaker often alls into the trap of reading the slides as the audience starts to die of boredom, a condition frequently known as “death by powerpoint.”
- Playing it Safe
Inexperienced presenters avoid taking any risks during their presentation and the result Is just what is expected: a deadly dull experience for everyone in the audience. You must take some risks if you want to rise above the crowd and deliver an effective presentation.
- Speaking with Low Energy
In their desire to get everything “right” inexperienced speakers often wind up giving a low key monotonous presentation and the result is often pure boredom for the crowd. You must have energy if you want to keep the audience interested and captivated.
- Speaking Too Fast
Inexperienced and nervous speakers tend to rush and this causes their key phrases and Ideas to have less impact on the audience. A slower delivery makes the presenter appear far more poised and confident.
- Excessive Formality
Rookie presenters and speakers often take themselves way too seriously and they mistake effective presentation skills with “formality.” In fact, the opposite is true: the speakers who can bring some informality and authenticity into his or her presentation will develop the “emotional connection” with the audience that makes the audience eager to listen.
- Failure to Make Eye Contact
The accomplished presenter knows how to make just enough eye contact with audience members to create the illusion that the speaker is having a conversation with the audience and not talking at them.
These few tips will help you immensely. Avoid these common mistakes and you can rapidly become an effective speaker and presenter.
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