15 Fatal Flaws Inexperienced Speakers Make
Avoid These Platform Gaffes And Start
Presenting Like A Pro
Bill Cole, MS, MA
When you sit and watch an experienced professional speaker
take hold of an audience, you are seeing magic in action.
They make everything look so easy and smooth, you wonder,
"Were they born with a silver microphone in their mouth?"
In actuality, all that platform polish comes with the price
of many years of hard work and training. That's how they make
everything come off with such seeming ease. They've paid their
dues many times over.
If you are less experienced than you'd like to be, you probably
make some errors in speaking that could be easily fixed. If
you just knew what they are!! That's the purpose of this article.
I want you to know the most common speaking mistakes that
people new to speaking make. Once you know these, your confidence
and effectiveness as a speaker will multiply many fold.
Here we go, the 15 most common speaking gaffes speech-givers
1. STOP arriving to your program at the last minute so
even you wonder if you are going to make it on time. What
do you suppose this does to the audience and organizers who
are stressed out from not knowing if they will have a speaker?
2. STOP playing fast and loose with the clock. You
can't simply start and stop your talk on your own terms. The
organizers have a schedule to keep and your audience wants
to be respected for their valuable time as well. Stay on schedule,
and preferably, stop a bit earlier than you said you would
to take questions.
3. STOP jumping into your talk without attempting to gain
some rapport with your audience. All audiences need to
be warmed up, and taking the time to do this can help you
give a better performance as well.
4. STOP trying to "wing it" by making up your talk as you
go, and "speaking from experience". Professional speakers
don't even do this, so don't think you can get away with it.
The audience will know.
5. STOP being so theoretical, conceptual, intellectual
and statistical. These are all guaranteed to turn off
any audience and turn them against you. People want practical,
useable material they can apply to their lives and careers,
not heavy academic, jargon-laden content that requires a Ph.D.
6. STOP trying to be all things to all people as you speak,
by wandering all over creation in an attempt to be "comprehensive"
or a "renaissance person". You'll simply confuse people,
who will be wondering what your topic is, and why they came
to your program.
7. STOP dressing like you just came from a beach party
or a backyard barbecue, or like you are on the way to the
hairdresser. Audiences like their speakers to look sharp,
professional and well put together. At the minimum, a well-kept
look gives you extra points on credibility before you even
open your mouth. First impressions count.
8. STOP using the same speech for every audience. Do
audience research and customize your talks. Your audience
will really appreciate that and probably ask you back for
more. You at least will be speaking their language and hit
the mark better than with a canned presentation.
9. STOP assuming that all your audiovisual equipment and
room have been set up properly by someone, or that nothing
has changed since you last touched it. This is the stuff
of disasters, and something you can easily avoid.
10. STOP negating the value of solid writing, platform
and staging skills. Every audience deserves the best speaker
they can get, and you have an obligation to continue improving
on your speaking skills every year.
11. STOP boring the audience. Enough said?
12. STOP overwhelming the audience with too much, or unnecessary
information they don't want or need. If you do your homework,
you'll know what will please them.
13. STOP teasing the audience by being miserly about how
much detail you are willing to give in your content. Some
speakers say to the audience, "I won't give you that information,
because it's in my book." Perhaps some audiences might be
thinking, "I won't be giving you my money for your book."
14. STOP being insensitive. Don't use negative, disrespectful
and uninformed jokes, stories, remarks, news events and other
content that will alienate your audiences, unless you have
a good lawyer on retainer.
15. STOP displaying such a big ego. Remember, speaking
is all about the audience and their needs, not the speaker's
I know now you will START planning better, crafting your speech
better and staging and delivering your speech with more attention
to the needs of the audience. I also know you will STOP making
any more of the 15 fatal flaws we just reviewed. Thanks for
listening! And enjoy your speaking. Your audiences will really
appreciate the new you! You just moved your speaking skills
up a complete level!
To learn more about how presentation coaching can help you
become a better, more confident speaker, visit Bill Cole,
MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach at www.PresentationSkillsCoaching.com.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2011 All rights reserved.
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Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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