By Dr. Miluna Fausch, HHCP, Ph.D., Public Speaking + Presentation Coach
When was the last time you witnessed a speaker who made massive mistakes, compromising their message, credibility and professionalism? Or, felt yourself making mistakes and beating yourself up afterwards? Ouch! Great public speakers can be trained through skill development, targeted focus, preparation and proper practice.
Here are five tips on how to avoid mistakes and blunders that can brand someone as an amateur or inexperienced speaker.
1. Not Customizing your Message to your Audience
How many times have you received an email with your name misspelled, an incorrect title, or the email was addressed to the Doctors of Acupuncture group when you are with the Pediatrician’s group?
How do you feel?
It is the same feeling when you as the speaker have not done your homework. It is your job to find out as much as you can about your audience.
Are they engineers or doctors?
These crowds are going to contain more analytical thinkers. You will want to add more left brain content like stats, facts, and figures. Learn to speak some of their jargon.
You may choose to work with nursery rhymes, or pictures, or draw on a flipchart.
A specific religion you are sharing with?
You probably don’t want to interject comparisons with other religious or spiritual organizations.
It is your job to craft a very specific pre-talk interview and information gathering intake form. Make sure you have this in your toolbox.
2. Lack of energy and passion
I recently heard a real estate mogul speak. We will call him Harry. He knew his stuff but he was cold, had no humor, a flat monotone Voice, and he came across like he did not care and we were just lucky to be in his presence.
Not a smile crossed his face the entire time.
He might be a very nice man in his personal life, but I don’t want to get to know him or work with him.
Because he did not care enough to craft and practice his presentation, get coaching or receive feedback. The way he came across was like a businessman who only cares about the size of his wallet.
Where’s the why, the heart, the soul, the excitement? We want to feel a connection with you.
3. No Practice or Rehearsal
In informal conversations that I have with other entrepreneurs, I find that most of them don’t practice or rehearse their presentations.
Maybe it’s because they become even more anxious, maybe because they don’t know how, or maybe they think it doesn’t matter or doesn’t show. Let me assure you unless you are a stunning public speaker, it shows.
Your audience deserves to hear the best you, not a phoned in version. You will want to run your presentation at least 2-3 times in front of a trusted colleague or friend.
Listen to their feedback. Even better, hire a professional coach to help you hone your skills.
4. The Dreaded Talking Data Head (I love this one. Do you like the name I gave this one?)
I worked with a brilliant physician and she had so much training and so many credentials that her speeches were all facts, stats, figures, and way too much information! The presentations were boring and analytic. Her information was revolutionary, but was not landing or making an impression with her crowds. Audiences cannot absorb that much dry information, especially in one hour.
Mix it up. Tell a story.
Get rid of all of the impressive, big, extra words. Get out of your head and go into your heart space. Show us a cartoon. Make a joke or two. And, speaking of jokes…
5. Inappropriate Jokes or Humor
For all of you males out there, I am going to speak to you first.
I can’t tell you the last time I heard a presentation from a man that did not include a sexual joke or reference (OK, one presentation did not).
Consider your audience. What if this is your mama’s church? What if there are victims of rape or violence in the audience?
There are times where gentle or romantic humor is called for and some times where it is not. You can be attractive and charismatic without this.
Be very discerning about presenting these types of jokes, because we may not think they are funny.
Don’t be that person who blunders on stage. I recommend that you review your sales presentations and keynote speech to ensure that you are not committing one of these cardinal sins.
Now go out there and make an impact through conscious, effective speaking in public!