Public Speaking Blunders
Public speaking blunders are made by everyone. Have you ever been part of an audience or group, and winced at something the speaker did or said? And as a speaker, have you ever been, winced at? Here are 9 common public speaking blunders and their remedies:
1. No preparation
2. No preparation
3. No preparation
4. Unclear purpose or message
5. Fail to establish trust and rapport
6. TALK AT rather than BE WITH
7. Talk like a non-stop train
8. Too much information!
9. No “This is What To Do Next” message
Public Speaking Blunders 1, 2 & 3: No Preparation
Let me ask you: Do you want to feel cool, calm and connected when you speak? Do you want your audience to listen? And do you want to be invited back to speak?
Three things will ensure that this happens – preparation, preparation, preparation. Doh. If you are a preparation-phobe, you need to ask yourself right now, “Why do I prefer to shoot myself in the foot rather than get what I want?” I have noticed that people who don’t do any preparation often fool themselves into thinking that if they just ignore the upcoming event, it will go away. Or a miracle will occur and they will find themselves channelling a witty dead comedian. Unfortunately these strategies rarely work. So do this:
• Prepare emotionally by giving yourself time to become present and calm.
• Prepare physically by organising items you may need such as notes, props, samples, handouts, cards, the clothing you intend to wear and, know the layout of the room.
• Prepare mentally by clearly identifying your purpose and intended outcomes for speaking. Research your audience – what problems can I solve for this group of people? What are the common factors this group and I share to establish credibility and relevance?
Public Speaking Blunder 4: Unclear Purpose Or Message
If you don’t know where you are going, your audience certainly won’t either. And instead of listening to you, they’ll switch off. At the beginning of your talk, tell them your purpose in speaking. Tell them what you are going to be talking about and what they will be learning. Then tell them how they will benefit and what they will need to do, to benefit. The audience then understands you are inviting them to accompany you on a journey and there is a purpose and a benefit in joining you.
Public Speaking Blunder 5: Failure To Establish Trust & Rapport
Would you listen to or buy from a presenter you didn’t trust? As a speaker, if you fail to take the time to establish a relationship with your listeners, they will keep their minds, their hearts and their wallets closed. And you will have missed the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with your clients/audience and hearing what they have to say to you.
Public Speaking Blunder 6: Talk AT Rather Than BE WITH
The way to establish trust and rapport is to BE WITH your audience. This is a lovely phrase from Lee Glickstein. “Be with” means to slow down, wait and be fully in the moment in relationship with another. When you stick to a memorised routine, you might as well just talk to your bedroom mirror. And the audience feels it and switches off. BEING WITH your audience means being available and listening to your audience first. It means you are having a dynamic, two-way conversation. Everyone wants to feel heard and be seen. So forget you and your agenda, and think about them. What do they need from you, and how can you supply it? Talk about that.
Public Speaking Blunder 7: Talk Like A Non-Stop Train
Fast speakers can be exciting and energising for about 3.5 minutes. One of the quickest ways to lose an audience (now, where did I put those people?) is to have no space between your words and ideas. People need time to think about what you’ve said and if you don’t give them that time, they will not hear your next brilliant point. Because they will still be thinking about the point before that.
Public Speaking Blunder 8: TOO Much Information
Which brings us to information overload. Our whole society is brimming enthusiastically with so much to say about everything. Do your audience a favour and edit out any clutter. Identify the priorities (Ask yourself: “What would I want to know about this subject?”) and clearly articulate those points. No one knows what you’ve missed out and no one cares. People want personal connection from you, not technical content – they can get that from a magazine.
Public Speaking Blunder 9: No “This Is What To Do Next” Message
When you stand up and speak it is because you want to sell, promote or share a product, service or idea. The first part of your talk explains the problem your audience wants solving and the last part of your talk should be about providing a solution. There’s no point getting people inspired when you don’t lay out a simple plan to help them take the next step. Provide a handout, articles, a web address or ask people to volunteer what they intend to do differently tomorrow.
If your audience doesn’t know what to do next, they generally, will do nothing. In which case you have to ask yourself: “So what was my point in standing up and speaking?” Your job as the speaker is to help your audience understand how to move forward and show them how to take that next step. And preferably, a step in your direction!
© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au