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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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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