The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 3
by Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch
As we noted in our last post, 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 Public Speaking Mistakes #4 through #6. In this post, we examine Public Speaking Mistakes #7 through #9.
Mistake #7: Not Using Vocal Variety
Speaking in a monotone puts your audience to sleep faster than Somminex sleeping pills. To keep your audience awake and engaged, vary your vocal delivery.
Project your voice and raise its volume. This gives your audience the impression that you are a powerful speaker and gives emphasis to your message.
Speak softly at times, especially when you are ready to make an important point. Your audience will lean forward and listen.
Vary your pacing. Speaking quickly tells your audience that you are enthusiastic about your message. Slowing down your delivery adds drama and importance to your message.
When you relate a story or anecdote and use dialogue, make sure you use vocal variety as you would in a conversation, varying the pitch, rate, and volume of your voice.
Mistake #8: Not Using Visual Aids
You’ve heard of the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Often, a visual can convey an idea more effectively than a written or spoken description.
Visual aids make your message memorable and interesting. They appeal to visual and auditory learners. Visual aids that audience members can touch appeal to kinesthetic learners. Use videos, flip charts, marker boards, physical models, and PowerPoint slides.
PowerPoint slides are very effective if you use them properly. They should convey only one idea per slide. Use simple backgrounds with little or no visual elements. Each slide should have a picture or other graphic that relates to your message. If the slide needs a title, make it one sentence at the top of the slide.
Mistake #9: Not Using Humor
Humor in a presentation is like herbs and spices in a salad. Both turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Use humor to build audience rapport. Achieve this through self-deprecating humor, audience in-jokes, and humor about the occasion.
Grab your audience’s attention with humor. Make sure the humor is related to your message or the occasion.
Tell a humorous story to make your point. Use the SPA Formula. Tell your funny STORY. Make your POINT. Then, ASSOCIATE the story to the point.
Use humor to transition from one point to another. Make sure you use a linking word or phrase in the joke or story to the same word or phrase in the next point.
Close your presentation with humor. In an informational presentation, summarize your main points. Refocus your audience’s attention on your thesis with a related anecdote or funny story. Then end by restating your thesis.
In the next post . . . Mistake #10–Not Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking — plus a BONUS.