In the data-driven marketing industry, it’s no easy task to explain, in laymen’s terms, what it is we do. Like any specialized vertical, we have our fare share of jargon and complex strategies that we’re called on to clarify to clients, peers, and the public at large. We often turn to PowerPoint, the public speakers visual best friend, but sometimes just putting pictures on the wall isn’t enough to convey our point. I know we’ve written about it before, but it’s time to talk about it again… To give a better idea of how to be a good data-driven marketing public speaker, let’s start with what not to do to, aka the big NO NOs of public speaking!

1. Never Apologize. Any public speaking class will tell you that the worst thing you can do when you first get on stage is say, “I apologize in advance. I’m not a very good public speaker.” While you may think this will endear you to the crowd, in actuality you’ve just:

a. Lost credibility

b. And distracted your audience, inviting them to now analyze your speaking abilities.

You should strive to exude confidence (even if you’re shaking in your shoes). If you act confidant, your audience will believe you are confidant and ultimately be more invested in your speech.

2. Numb the audience with Numbers. In our field of analytics, we have all kinds of interesting statistics and numbers to pull from, but for a listener in the audience they can be hard to hear and overwhelming. Rather than pummeling your audience with stats, break them down with complimentary illustrations or give an anecdote to go along with the statistic.

3. Lackluster Start. The first lesson of good feature story writing is to pull your reader in with an interesting opening and the same goes for public speaking. Think of it like fishing, what bait are you going to use to hook them?

4. Helter Skelter Speech Structure. Think of the arc of a story, there’s an opening, climax and a resolution. Your speech should have a similar structure. Let your opening build to your main point, then flow down to a complete ending that leaves with a takeaway audiences can exit thinking about.

5. Little Preparation. What did your kindergarten teacher always tell you? Come prepared. Walking up to the podium when you have only a tiny familiarity with what you’re about to share is the kiss of death. You’re wasting the audience’s time and they know it.

6. Avoid Jazz hands. Keep your hands out of your pockets, fiddling with your belt buckle or playing with your hair.  Body awareness is critical and practicing in the mirror is a great way to get a better idea of what your body is actually doing while you jabber away. Familiarize yourself with your own ticks so you can manage them when you speak.

7. Mediocre Conclusion. All too often I’ve seen folks come to the last slide in their presentation, slump and they say, “Well, uhh, that’s it.” BOO! Confidence should carry you throughout the entire presentation and you should be just as psyched on the last slide as the first. End with a smile, thank the audience for coming and then say I’d be happy to answer any questions. Do not just flick off the PowerPoint and say, “Questions?” You may mean well, but this can come off as rude. Interacting with your audience at the end of the presentation is critical. They’ve just listened to you for an hour now do the right thing and listen to them.

Avoid all those No No’s and trust me, they’ll love you!