AFTER MANY YEARS OF COACHING speakers and industry leaders, I have developed a very simple and workable checklist of what to avoid when preparing, organizing, and delivering speeches and presentations of any kind to ensure that my clients/students do not make these mistakes. If you use this checklist, you'll be well on your way to mastering public speaking. Here they are-eight public speaking blunders to avoid:
1. UNKNOWN AUDIENCE
Before preparing your presentation, get to know your audience. Gather enough information on who is attending that you know you are addressing the needs and interests of your audience in your speech. What do they like or dislike, agree with or disagree with? What do they want to know?
2. VAGUE OBJECTIVE OR PURPOSE
Make sure you have a clear understanding of why you are giving this particular presentation. There are key, distinct purposes to consider in preparing any speech or presentation, and you must define these before you start planning-they will dictate how you organize and deliver your words. So, before you start preparing and organizing, write down exactly what your objective is. This will ensure that your content is aligned consistently throughout your speech, from beginning to end.
3. UNKNOWN OUTCOME/PRODUCT
What is the end product you want your speech to result in? What is your call to action? Every speech must exact some type of commitment from your audience, and that commitment is yours to plan for and aim to get. Is it to make appointments to come see you? To visit your website? To purchase your book, video, or other materials after your speech? Decide what your product is before you start preparing and organizing your presentation.
4. LACK OF FLOW/SEQUENCE
Your speech must be sequenced properly so that it flows smoothly and clearly from start to finish. Your first priority in presenting is ensuring that you are understood clearly. A well-organized speech that will convey your message without distracting your audience or confusing them along the way is your goal.
5. INFORMATION OVERLOAD
Work with what is really important in your speech. Create concisely structured (not wordy) sentences, and do not add fillers just to occupy time. Edit, edit, edit.
6. INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT
Substantiate the points you are making with information or examples that clearly add to the validity or believe-ability of the points you make. Your audience's demand is, Prove it! Without sufficient support, your important points will not receive the acceptance from your audience that you need and want. This is your credibility builder!
7. MONOTONOUS DELIVERY
Vary your tone, pitch, emphasis, pace, and volume so you don't subject your audience to vocal monotony. Time your presentation and pace yourself when you practice, being aware of the speed with which you make your delivery, so that you make sure you're slowing down to emphasize points or perhaps speeding up when speaking with emotion. Refine your speech vocally until it sounds conversational and natural. You can also vary emotion, body language and facial expression. Variety is the opposite of monotony!
8. DISCONNECT FROM AUDIENCE OR MESSAGE There are three key connections involved in public speaking that, if violated, leave your audience disassociated from your purpose or intended outcome. These are:
1) speaker connected to message;
2) speaker connected to audience;
3) message connected to audience.
If you are not connected to both your message and your audience, you won't be able to connect your message to your audience. This key is the essential ingredient in inspiring and influencing any audience.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Know these eight blunders cold, and use these must-avoids as a reference for your next and ongoing presentations. You will be guaranteed to avoid speech catastrophes!
All the best,
Internationally published best selling author, speaker and coach