In my 21 years of presenting, facilitating and observing many other speakers, I’ve learnt some very powerful distinctions about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to speaking to any audience.
Here is my list of the top 5 mistakes of public speaking with advice on how to achieve speaking success.
1: Not having a clear message or intention.
Whenever you give a presentation or speech you must be crystal clear about your intention, message and desired outcome. Know why you are giving the presentation and exactly what you want to leave the audience with. What do you want them to take away from your presentation? If you don’t do this you may get off track and just waffle. As the speaker, the audience has granted you their most precious commodity; their time, so don’t waste it.
2: Lack of energy and enthusiasm.
You need to get used to the feelings you will experience before speaking to a group of people. Some give these feelings a negative label such as nerves or anxiety, but it’s actually positive energy which you can use to your advantage. These feelings are normal and they won’t hurt you.
Just before I speak to an audience I feel like I’m waiting to get on a rollercoaster; I’m scared and excited all at the same time. If you don’t feel something prior to your presentation check your pulse because something is wrong with you! Instead of fighting or trying to suppress these feelings, learn to harness this energy by accepting it. If you are able to do this you will enjoy public speaking because the audience will respond to your enthusiasm and excitement.
3: Not starting strongly.
The beginning is the most challenging part of any presentation. So it’s important for you and the audience that you make a solid start. Knowing exactly the first sentence that will come out of your mouth will fill you with confidence. I like to start by asking the audience a closed question by a show of hands. Here’s an example: If the presentation is about public speaking a good question could be: “How many of you have ever felt uncomfortable in front of an audience?” This immediately gets the audience involved and takes some of the focus off you. Practice your opening statement or question as much as you can prior to the presentation.
4: Writing out the whole speech or presentation.
Three bullet points is all you need when speaking on a familiar topic. Once you have your 3 bullet points you can give some thought to what you will say about each of them without having to write down word for word what you are going to say. This will save you lots of time and effort when preparing, and during delivery you won’t have to try to remember what it was you wrote down. If it’s not a familiar topic get someone else to do the presentation!
5: Not finishing strongly.
Have you ever experienced that uncomfortable silence when a speaker has finished their presentation but the audience is not sure whether to applaud? The reason for this is that the speaker finished with very low energy. If you don’t end with a punchy, powerful conclusion your presentation will be left open ended. Your conclusion relates directly to the message discussed in point 1 of this article. Write down your conclusion and practice it as much as you can prior to the presentation. I sometimes use a famous quote that relates to my central message as a way to finish.
Who knows, if you start preparing and delivering all your presentations this way, like me, you might start to enjoy public speaking!
About the Author
Phil Schibeci is a renowned corporate speaker and workshop facilitator. He teaches professionals in various businesses and organisations the skills to create positive, productive workplaces to help them achieve the goals of their business. In his book, How to Get Out of The RUT Race, Phil has put together a practical guide that provides readers with the tools to get out of a rut and achieve major life goals. For more information visit www.philschibeci.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first person to email Phil with a question or comment about this article will receive a free signed copy of his book.