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The Eight Worst Mistakes that Keynote Speakers Make

The Eight Worst Mistakes that Keynote Speakers Make

Have you ever been bored rigid by a conference speaker? How can you avoid that fate if you have to give a talk? Here are the worst sins that public speakers commit so you can be sure not to make these same mistakes.

1. A Weak Start.

The first impression that you make on the stage is very important.  It should be positive and animated.  Many speakers make a feeble start.  They look down and mumble their first words or worse, they make an apology.  The audience wants you to succeed, they want you to be professional, informative and entertaining, so meet their expectations.

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2.  Over-use of PowerPoint.

Slides can be useful – especially for showing charts or images.  But many speakers load up their presentation with too many slides containing too many words.  The speaker then reads the slide and the audience reads it as well, not looking or paying attention to the speaker.  This is what’s known as, ‘death by PowerPoint.”

3. No Clear Message.

Often speakers try to cover too much ground and overload the audience with data.  There are many different messages but there is no clear theme.  Ideally your talk should have one central idea and your talk should have a structure that communicates the idea.  For example, you might start by talking about a problem, you might tell a story, you might propose a solution then you might end with a call to action – something you want the audience to do.

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4.  No Human Interest.

Many talks are crammed full of facts, data, charts and statistics with no stories.  With no stories that people can relate to, the presentation is dull and the audience will get bored.  Include a  story or two that people can relate to in order to keep their interest.  For example, if you want to improve customer service, do not drone on about the percentage of net recommenders.  Tell a story about someone who gave great service, describe them and the situation and make the story come alive.

5.  Lack of Enthusiasm.

A speaker who lacks enthusiasm cannot generate enthusiasm in the audience.  Many speakers deliver their content in a dreary monotone voice, reading dry statements from a script and putting the audience to sleep.  Your job as a speaker is to inform and entertain.  Look the audience in the eye and speak from the heart, walk about the stage (but not too much) and vary your voice – pitch, speed of delivery and volume.  Try to include some humor or something interesting and unusual; but keep it relevant to the topic.

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6.  Too Much Me and Not Enough You.

A big mistake is to make the talk about you, your company, your issues and your achievements.  The audience is interested in their problems so you have to make your talk about them.  If you give examples about your company, then draw out larger issues and lessons that are relevant and useful to your listeners.  Count how many times you say ‘I’ or ‘we’ and count how many times you say ‘you.’

7. No Rehearsal.

Many speakers make elementary mistakes on stage.  They struggle with the equipment, their slides are out of order or it’s clear they haven’t rehearsed.  Before you speak, practice your talk so that you can be confident about every aspect of it.  On the day of the event, you should check all the equipment on stage and be familiar with all the logistics.

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8. Overrunning on Time.

This is a sin that many speakers commit.  Event organizers and audiences do not appreciate a speaker who overruns his allotted time.  Worse still, the speaker compounds the error by rushing towards the end to cram in all his remaining slides.  If you have a 45 minute slot, then practice a talk that fits comfortably into 40 minutes.  That way you can end the talk in a strong, confident manner and take the time to really deliver your key message,  If you have time over, you can always offer to take questions.

Practice your talk and deliver it with confidence and enthusiasm.  You will enjoy it and more importantly so will your audience.

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Paul Sloane

Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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