The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 2

Date posted: August 5, 2011 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Presentation Delivery

by Allan Kaufman, DTM and Allan Misch, DTM

A presentation needs to accomplish two broad goals. First it must give your audience what they need. Second, it must leave your audience with a favorable impression of you. So avoid the Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes that prevent you from achieving those goals.

The ten biggest 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 our last post, we discussed the first three mistakes. In this post, we examine Public Speaking Mistakes 4 through 6.

Mistake #4: Not Knowing How to Write and Deliver an Organized Presentation.

This mistake prevents your audience from following your presentation to its conclusion. To be effective, your audience must easily understand and follow you throughout your presentation. You accomplish this by organizing your presentation with at least a clearly defined Opening, Body, Closing, and Transitions.

In an informational presentation, use a three-part Opening. First, grab your audience’s attention. Second, state your thesis or tell your audience how they will benefit from your presentation. Third, reveal briefly what information you will cover.

The Body of your presentation contains the points you want to share. Generally, present your three most important points. Also include examples, factual data, illustrations, quotes, stories, and/or anecdotes that support your points.

Use a three-part Closing in your informational presentation. First, summarize quickly your three points. Second, re-focus your audience’s attention so they are ready to hear the final part of your Closing. Third, end by re-stating your thesis.

Transitions lead your audience from the beginning to the end of your presentation. They connect one idea to another and one part of your presentation to another. Use verbal Transitions such as “In conclusion,” “To summarize,” “Therefore,” “Nevertheless,” and “As important as <point #1> is, <point #2> is more important.” Sometimes, just a slight pause can be an effective transition. Another effective transition is a pause coupled by a move to the other side of your audience.

Download our Checklist for Organizing Your Presentation to help you create a well organized presentation every time.

Mistake #5: Not Staying Within Your Allotted Time Frame.

Delivering a presentation within specific time parameters is essential, especially if you are on a program with other speakers. Each speaker and aspect of the program has an allotted time limit. If you go beyond your time limit, you disrupt the entire program. Usually, you cause another speaker to have a reduced speaking time. Probably, you won’t be invited back.

Volunteer to speak first. That way, if someone else goes over time, it will not affect your presentation.

Do whatever you have to ensure your audience goes to their meal, break, and home on time.

Mistake #6: Not Knowing How to Use Eye Contact, Gestures, and Body Language Effectively.

Enhance your impact by using eye contact, gestures, and body language that compliment your spoken message. Looking at your audience helps you develop rapport with them. No one wants to listen to a speaker who has his or her eyes glued to notes.

To make eye contact, pick out someone on the left side of your audience and speak to him for five to ten seconds while making your point. Then look at someone in the middle of your audience and speak to her for five to ten seconds. Make another point.

Repeat this pattern. Talk to someone on the right side of your audience. Then talk to someone else in the middle of your audience and then the left side again. When you use this technique, you actually connect with individuals in your audience.

As you eye connect with your audience, gesture with your arms, hands, and body. Make sure your gestures are in sync with your words. Avoid nervous, distracting mannerisms such as putting your hands in your pockets, jiggling change, clicking a pen, clasping your hands behind your back and others.

Avoid staying in one spot unless you must present from behind a lectern. Start and end stage center. When you transition from one point to another, move to another side of your audience.

Your gestures and body movements make up a non-verbal language that often is more impactful than your words. Make sure your verbal and non-verbal messages are in sync. If they are not in sync, your audience will become confused and probably will believe the non-verbal signals that you send.

In the next post… Public Speaking Mistakes 7, 8, and 9.


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