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15 Mistakes That Excellent Public Speakers Never Make In Their Presentations

15 Mistakes That Excellent Public Speakers Never Make In Their Presentations

Public speaking isn’t an easy feat. Many speakers, even well-trained ones, get nervous and sometimes mess up. There are some mistakes professional presenters never make, though. Here are a few of them, and what to do instead.

1. They don’t wait until the night before to prepare

Audiences can tell when a speaker hasn’t adequately prepared for his or her presentation. To give a successful presentation, a speaker needs to not only have taken the time to put together an effective, well-structured speech, but by the time they get up on stage or in front of a room, they’ve already practiced it a dozen times.

2. They don’t let the audience know they’re nervous

Everyone gets nervous before a big presentation, even experts. Nervousness can cause a lot of fidgeting and other awkward movement, though, which distracts the audience from the content of the speech. If you can, hide your nervousness. Practice your speech so well that you’ll be able to perform right through your nerves without your audience ever noticing.

3. They don’t fidget

Twirling your hair, sliding your hands into your pockets, even walking back-and-forth while you’re speaking can be extremely distracting to those trying to listen to what you have to say. Instead, use your nervous energy to pull your audience in within the first 15 seconds.

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4. They don’t just stare at one spot on the wall

Speaking to a group of people is much more than just standing in front of a screen telling them what to do. To show the audience you are interested in the subject matter as well as their reactions to it, don’t just stare at the wall behind them. Make eye contact with as many audience members as you can, to make them feel like they’re part of it, too.

5. They don’t read off their notes or slides

Isn’t it harder to pay attention when someone is talking to you, but is staring down at their phone? It’s important to make eye contact with the members of your audience as you speak. You can have notes in front of you, but do your best only to glance at them, instead of keeping your head down the whole time.

6. They don’t jump back and forth between topics

Keep your presentation clean and organized by allowing the content to flow easily from one point to the next. Jumping back-and-forth between an array of topics will confuse your audience and can even make it difficult for them to figure out the overarching point you’re trying to make.

7. They don’t speak in monotone

When we speak naturally, our tone takes on fluctuations and shifts in volume at the appropriate times. These are audible cues to help your listeners follow along and stay engaged from start to finish. If you speak in monotone for 15 straight minutes, you’ll lose most of your audience before you even get the chance to make your point.

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8. They don’t present their slides full of typos and small fonts

While you don’t want your visual aids to be the center of your presentation, you don’t want to distract your audience and make yourself look sloppy and unprofessional, either. Proofread your slides and make sure the audience can read them from the back row.

9. They don’t talk a mile a minute

When you’re up in front of people, and you want to do well but you’re also nervous, you will end up talking a lot faster than you originally planned. This might get you out of the spotlight faster, but no one will be able to hear and comprehend what you’re saying. Speak slower than you think you need to.

10. They don’t go over a specific time limit

Probably the worst thing you can do as a public speaker is draw your presentation out past its time limit. There are reasons TED Talks, for example, are capped at less than 15 minutes. If you can’t make and support your points in that time frame, your speech isn’t quite ready to be heard yet.

11. They don’t rely too heavily on technology

When a presentation relies too much on technology, it becomes less of a presentation and more of a demonstration. A speaker should be able to give their presentation in full without supplemental technology. Slides and other visual aids should act as bonus material, instead of the focal point of the presentation. This also ensures that a presentation can continue even if the technology fails.

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12. They don’t say “um” every time they pause

Fillers—saying “um” or “so” to fill pauses—don’t go unnoticed by listeners, especially when it’s a nervous habit. Speaking slowly and even strategic pausing, without feeling the need to fill the silence, can help eliminate using fillers without realizing it. This is also why preparing and practicing is a plus.

13. They don’t act like the audience isn’t there

A common mistake among less experienced public speakers is to stand in front of a room full of people and speak to the wall behind them. Members of an audience will be much more interested in your presentation if you make them part of the ordeal, instead of talking over their heads.

14. They don’t wait until the very end to state their point

Giving a speech is like writing a story. If you wait until the last line to get your point across, most readers won’t make it that far. Get to the point. State your main idea at the very beginning of your presentation and then continue on with more details so the audience can follow along.

15. They don’t expect everything to go as planned

No matter how well you plan, something can always go wrong. When you’re up in front of an audience giving a presentation, people are there to hear what you have to say. They don’t expect the speech to be perfect. Mistakes happen, but the biggest one of all is believing you won’t make any.

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Professional public speakers have had a lot of time and opportunities to refine their skills and learn from their mistakes. You can learn to avoid these mistakes, too. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about doing a little bit better this time than you did the time before.

Featured photo credit: www.audio-luci-store.it via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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