Home » Business » Presentation

Even Professional Public Speakers Make Mistakes - Here Are The Top 10

Aug 18, 2007
Have you ever been really excited about going to a conference just to be unpleasantly surprised by the quality of the speakers?

There are some really high caliber speakers in the world, many of which charge thousands of dollars for a 1-hour keynote speech, but many of them still haven't mastered the very basics of public presentation.

Please, don't let yourself fall into these traps! But don't feel bad if you've done some of these things because even the pros slip sometimes!

1. You look awful

If I am wearing nicer clothes than you and I'm in the audience, you've got a problem. One of the very first lessons I learned about public speaking (when I was 12 years old) was that how you look matters more than what you say.

Yes, that's right. Disappointing, isn't it?

You can use all the flowery prose you like, but if you don't look well-groomed, professional and credible no one will care too much about what you have to say.

2. You forget you're wearing a clip mic

When you're wearing a clip mic, please don't look down at your shoes when you speak. You actually shouldn't be doing this anyway, but it's even more annoying when you're wearing a mic because you end up yelling, spitting and/or breathing heavily into it!

Also be careful that you don't hit the mic when you gesture. Finally, make sure that your jacket isn't rubbing up against it every time you move.

All of these extra noises are distractions to your audience.

3. You tell inappropriate jokes

It just amazes me in this day and age when political correctness is such a hot topic that so many people can still stand up in front of audiences and make inappropriate, sexist or just plain sexual comments to large groups of people.

Cut it out! It's not funny. It's just unprofessional.

4. Your examples don't fit the culture you're speaking to

I can't even count how many metaphors I've heard over the past few weeks referring to basketball and baseball or examples using basketball and baseball stars. If you're speaking in a country outside of the United States, use some examples that make sense to your audience. Here in Singapore you would get a lot farther talking about badminton, football (that's soccer) and cricket!

5. You think that yelling is the same as motivating

Really, it just hurts our ears. If you want to yell to make a point, please move your mic away from your mouth before you blow out the speakers.

6. You pace the stage

It gets very distracting watching a speaker endlessly walk back and forth across a stage. It almost makes me dizzy.

It also gives the impression that the speaker is nervous, can't stand still or is literally darting questions or issues.

Stand tall and proud (in one spot) and deliver a powerful message. Use movement when changing topics to signal a new train of thought.

7. You stand behind the lectern and read your speech

I simply couldn't believe it when not one, but THREE of the speakers I have seen lately simply stood behind their lecterns and read their speeches - word for word.

What a waste of time!

I could probably find those speeches somewhere on the internet and read through them myself, skipping the boring parts, and be done in less than half the time I spent watching them read their scripts.

8. You try to speak with your mouth closed

For those of you who have tried this, you've probably found that it's pretty hard to do. When you're standing in front of a large group of people, it is so important to enunciate your words.

Open your mouth, project your voice and speak CLEARLY. I can't stress it enough.

What's the point of giving a presentation if we can't understand what you're saying?

9. Your power point slides are illegible, and the ones we can read are littered with typos

Check, double-check and then triple check your slides. Pass out copies of the slides to three friends and have them repeat the process. It is really important that your slides are error-free.

Of course if they are like the slides in most presentations, we probably won't be able to read them anyway because there will be too much information and the text will be too small.

In that case, it doesn't really matter.

10. You have no stage awareness

I know that speaking in public is hard enough without having to think about the stage too, but it is just so important! Be aware of where you are on the stage. How far away you are from your notes, the laptop running your presentation or your water are all important things to know.

The silence can be unbearable not only for you, but also your audience as you walk all the way across the stage because you forgot what you wanted to say next.

Also be aware of the lighting. Sometimes lines are drawn on the stage and you will be asked not to cross them. There is a reason for that! It's so that we can SEE you.
About the Author
Heather Hansen, founder of Singapore-based Hansen Speech & Language Training, is an executive speech and language coach, writer and trainer. Become a star speaker! Visit her website www.hansenslt.com now for free information on how to speak clearly, correctly and confidently! Join her mailing list to receive your free special report, and as a special bonus you'll also receive her monthly newsletter, Speak like a Star!
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 220
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories