Public Speaking

Without question, public speaking is one the best ways to be seen as an expert in your field. Through public speaking, business owners can get their message in front of large groups of people, encouraging a conversation while supporting their value proposition.

Many people have thought of giving public speaking a try but have let their fear get in the way. But, once you know some of the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them, you can feel confident and relaxed up on stage.

With this in mind, here’s how to avoid common public speaking mistakes:

Choosing the Wrong Topic

Choosing the right information to share with others is absolutely critical to your success. You will obviously want to choose a topic you are an expert on and feel passionate about. But, perhaps even more important, you’ll want to choose a topic your audience is eager to learn about.

This will require you to do some digging to find out as much as you can about the people who will come to hear you speak. What are their pain points? What solutions have they already tried? How can your knowledge impact their life in a significant and positive way?

Not Preparing

If you’re new to public speaking, understand that it’s going to take some practice on your part to get comfortable and share your information in a clear, concise and engaging way.

Before the big event, you’ll want to rehearse your presentation, preferably in front of others. Ask friends, family and/or colleagues to listen to you and offer feedback. Don’t take any criticism personally, take it to heart and make the necessary adjustments.

Not Connecting Right Away

Many public speakers spend so much time developing and memorizing their content that they forget to create an initial report with their audience. You only have a few seconds to hook your audience and convince them to give you their full attention.

How can you grab listeners’ attention? Open your presentation with a joke, personal story or shocking bit of data. This will get the listeners to sit forward in their chairs and give you their full attention.

Using a Monotone Voice

Do you remember the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “Bueller… Buller?” He was so boring the kids were falling asleep in their chairs. The reason he was so boring is because he spoke in an absolutely monotone voice and it put everyone who listened to him asleep.

Don’t let this happen to you. Your voice should have inflections to keep people listening. Practice making your voice go lower and higher to punctuate sections of your presentation.

Standing Rigid

Movement is to your body what inflection is to your voice. If you stand stiff and never move, your audience will also get bored. Standing stiff is just not natural. Use gestures as you would in normal speech. And, unless you are forced to stand behind a podium for the microphone, move around the stage so everyone can see you.

Reading Your PowerPoint Slides

People came to HEAR you speak, not WATCH you read. Your PowerPoint slides are there to act as support for your overall presentation. Standing there reading from your own slides is a great way to get people to completely tune you out and wonder what to have for lunch.

Beyond this, one of the best ways to connect with people is to make eye contact. You can’t do this is if your eyes are glued to your computer.

Talking Too Fast

When you’re nervous, it’s easy to begin speaking faster and faster and faster. Get into the habit of using pauses in your presentation to slow yourself down. Take a nice deep breath and begin again at a slower pace. Speaking on stage is not the same as speaking in real life. You will have to slow… it…. down a bit. It will feel unnatural at first, as it should. But just keep practicing.

Trying to be Perfect

Human beings are so scared to make a mistake in front of others. This is what causes people to get the jitters before going on stage – because they are worried they will screw up and people will laugh at them.

This is the wrong mindset to have. Never focus on being perfect. Perfection is an impossibility. Instead, focus on HELPING others. When you go on stage with a goal of helping as many people with your knowledge as you can, you feel confident and inspired, and your audience will instantly feel that, too.

Don’t try to be perfect. Be real – be human – be helpful.

Public speaking can be nerve wracking. But it can also be a tremendous way to build your following and convince people to give your brand a try. If you follow these tips, you will easily avoid the most common public speaking mistakes and be successful each time you take the stage.

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