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15 Mistakes That Excellent Public Speakers Never Make In Their Presentations

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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