The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – Part 4
by Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch
As we noted in parts 1 through 3, 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 #7 through #9. In this post, we examine Public Speaking Mistakes #10 . . . plus a BONUS #11.
Mistake #10: Not Overcoming your Fear of Public Speaking
Most people have a fear of public speaking. Surveys indicate it is the number one fear.
Some public speaking experts believe the way to reduce public speaking fear is to present as often as possible and hope to desensitize your fear. Usually, this strategy is not effective because it does not neutralize the root cause of your fear.
The root cause of your public speaking fear is either a lack of presentation skills; negative beliefs, thoughts, and experiences that are related or unrelated to public speaking; or both. Unless you target the root cause, you will not neutralize your public speaking fear no matter how many times you present.
When you take public speaking courses or join Toastmasters International, you learn public speaking skills. Learning presentation skills will eliminate public speaking fear and anxiety, sometimes called stage fright, caused by a lack of skills. However, fear and anxiety caused by emotional issues related or unrelated to presenting will remain.
Some people who treat public speaking fear recommend taking calming medications such as beta blockers before you present. We do not recommend this approach. It does not address the root causes of your anxiety. It creates an additional problem–dependence on medication to temporarily ease your emotional pain.
Psychological counseling is another approach to eliminate your public speaking fear. This therapy is time consuming and may never resolve the root causes of your anxieties.
As an example, years ago I gave a presentation on a public speaking topic to an audience undergoing group therapy for public speaking fear. After the meeting, I had a conversation with one of the participants. She revealed that she was in therapy for public speaking fear for many years but made little progress. Her progress was dismal because the therapy did not address and resolve the root cause of her fear.
Other approaches to resolve your public speaking fear include hypnotherapy and NLP, or Neuro-linguisting Programming. These approaches are effective but require a certified practitioner to use them with a high degree of success. Usually, these practitioners can only treat your fear and anxiety, not your need for presentation skills mastery.
The absolute best and quickest way to neutralize your public speaking fear is to experience No Sweat Speaking™ training or group coaching for your group or one-on-one coaching for you. The No Sweat Speaking™ program neutralizes your public speaking fear rapidly while you master presentation skills. You experience a quantum leap in confidence and mastery.
Becoming a confident speaker is like learning to play the piano. First you must believe that you can succeed, then you must learn the basics. Practice and then practice some more. It’s worth it. Because generally, those who can communicate effectively get the best jobs, make the most money, and are more influential.
We like to give more than our audience expects, so here’s a BONUS . . .
Mistake #11: Not Making Your Use of Notes as Inconspicuous as Possible
Using notes is appropriate, but there is a wrong way that distracts your audience and quickly identifies you as an amateur. You probably have seen that approach. It looks like this.
The speaker puts his notes on the lectern. The notes take up several pages stapled on the top left side. They are written or typed in a 10-point or 12-point font and single-lined spaced on both sides of the page. The speaker has a challenge reading the notes. He takes too much time turning the pages and appears disorganized. But it does not have to be this way.
You can use notes the right way, let’s call it the No Sweat Speaking™ professional look. Here’s how to look like a pro in three easy steps.
Step #1: Type your notes on one side of the page. Use a 14-point or 16-point type size. Use no more than the top two-thirds of the page. Double or triple line space them. Keep one thought to a paragraph. Underline in red the key phrase in each paragraph. Put a page number top, right on each page. Do not staple the pages together. Use a paper clip.
Step #2: At the lectern, remove the paper clip. Place page 1 on the left and the rest of your pages (2, 3, 4, etc.) on the right with page 2 on top. You now have pages 1 and 2 in front of you. Begin your presentation.
Step #3: As you finish page 1, immediately look at page 2. While beginning page 2, slide page 2 to the left on top of page 1. Now you have pages 2 and 3 in front of you. When you finish page 2, immediately look at page 3, and slide page 3 on top of page 2, revealing page 4. Continue this process until you finish your presentation.
Use this technique and your audience will not see or be distracted by your notes during your presentation.
In this and the three prior posts, we have discussed some of the biggest public speaking mistakes and how to avoid them. Avoiding these mistakes will guarantee that you will give your audience what they need and leave them with a favorable impression.
But there are more than these public speaking mistakes. You probably have some favorites that we have not covered. If you would like to share them, please do so in the comments below. We would like to know what they are. They could be the subject of future posts.
You can obtain Allan Kaufman’s audio program The Ten Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them here.