What not to do

Interesting how some “experts” make speaking 101 mistakes.  This post was inspired by a You Tube video of a public speaking “expert” delivering a presentation to a conference based on his new book.  The presentation was so boring that I turned it off after slightly more than a minute into it. 

Just as you can learn from good speakers, watch for things you don’t like, and avoid them in your speaking.  Here are some of the mistakes this speaker made:

  • Keep your hands off  your face.  This speaker started by unconsciously rubbing his face.  Whether it’s pushing the hair out of your face or scratching an itch, keep your hands off your face.  It’s distracting and signals insecurity.  When I was acting years ago, we were taught that if we had an itch, we had to ignore it.  Good advice.
  • Don’t tell a joke if you’re not good at it.  It’s no joking matter. The speaker made a feeble attempt at a joke.  No one laughed.
  • Finish your sentences.  This speaker would start a sentence, then go on to another one without finishing the first thought.  This gives your listeners a sense of being disorganized and disjointed.
  • Limit your presentation.  The You Tube video went on for nearly 15 minutes.  The introductory minute was so bad that there was no way I could sit through 14 more minutes.  People today are time-challenged.  Less is more.  Better to leave them wanting more than wishing you would stop.

Why did this speaker do so badly?  It was obvious in only a few seconds that he hadn’t prepared.  He may have been tired, and obviously thought he could “wing it.”  This is one of the worst mistakes people make: thinking you can get up and just deliver something without practice and structure.

No matter where you’re speaking, your audience deserves more.  Think through every presentation, outline it, practice it.

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