The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 1

Date posted: July 19, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Presentation Delivery

Allan Kaufman, DTM

When you give a presentation, one of your goals is to give your audience what they need. Your other goal is to leave your audience with a favorable impression of you. So avoid the ten mistakes that will prevent you from achieving those goals.

The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes are:

1. Not making a good first impression.

2. Not being prepared.

3. Not being enthusiastic.

4. Not knowing how to write and deliver an organized presentation.

5. Not staying within your allotted time frame.

6. Not knowing how to effectively use eye contact, gestures, and body language.

7. Not using vocal variety.

8. Not using visual aids.

9. Not using humor.

10. Not overcoming your fear of public speaking.

In this post, we’ll examine the first three Public Speaking Mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not Making a Good First Impression

Use the following strategies to make a good first impression: dressing, walking, and presenting yourself to your introducer and audience.

It’s important to dress equal to or even better than your audience. Why? You’ll establish rapport and increase your credibility with your audience.

If your audience is dressed in corporate business attire you should wear a suit, sport coat and tie, dress, or dress suit. Read John T. Molloy’s books: Dress for Success or The Woman’s Dress for Success Book.

Also to make a good first impression, walk confidently to the lectern, shake hands with the person who introduces you, and then address your audience.

Mistake #2: Not Being Prepared or Not Giving the Impression that You Are Prepared

Preparation is everything you do before you give your presentation. Two important aspects of preparation are developing your presentation skills and gathering the content for your presentation.

Develop your presentation skills now. Build a library of books on public speaking skills. Take classes or workshops on public speaking. Join Toastmasters International. Engage a public speaking coach to help you neutralize public speaking fear and master presentation skills. If you develop your presentation skills now, well in advance of a sudden need or desire to give a presentation, then you can invest most of your time on developing content.

When developing content, do your homework. Use examples from your personal experience. Research what you’re going to say, write it down or at least prepare an outline, and most importantly, practice… practice… practice!

If you’re not prepared, don’t give your presentation, especially if you’re getting paid for the engagement! If you’re not getting paid and must give the presentation, and if you’re sufficiently skilled in the basics of public speaking, do the best that you can with what you know.

In any case, don’t apologize for not being prepared or make excuses and then deliver your presentation. You’ll only program your audience for your failure. If your audience doesn’t expect you to fail, they’ll be supportive and may not know that you’re not completely prepared, especially if you have well-developed, basic presentation skills.

Mistake #3: Not Being Enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm can make up for a great deal of weaknesses. If you’re not excited about your topic, get another topic or find something about that topic for which you can develop enthusiasm.

Show your audience that you’re excited about what you’re sharing with them. Talk faster than you normally do and be animated. Demonstrate a high energy level. Your energy is catching. Your audience will sense your energy and become enthusiastic.

As author James Baldwin said, “Fires can’t be made with dead embers.” So get fired up and speak enthusiastically about your topic.

In the next post… Public Speaking Mistakes #4, #5, and #6.


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