There are a few public speaking mistakes that surprisingly a large amount of people make but which really affect their presentations. There are small and big mistakes that can make you appear unprofessional, lose your audience, and ruin your presentation. We’ve picked the nine worst public speaking crimes so you can work on them and make sure you’re not guilty of these offenses. Let’s dive in.
1. Reading from the Screen
Unfortunately, time and time again, presenters will start their public speaking by reading from slides and then follow up with an explanation. Or, they will simply stick to the powerpoint and read it word for word.
One helpful solution is to prepare your presentation physically and mentally prior to the public speaking event. If you need to use flash cards, don’t heavily rely on them. If you can remember the gist of your presentation, then that’s more than enough for you to not rely on the slides.
2. Chewing Bubble-gum
Maybe you like having chewing gum because it relaxes you. Unfortunately, it’s something that audience members tend to find incredibly irritating and may even cause them to leave. When you’re sitting in an audience, seeing the person on stage chewing gum is annoying and unprofessional. If that’s your habit, please stop this immediately.
3. Speaking in Jargon
Your presentation is not the time to show your intelligence and understanding of the field. The fact that you’re on stage proves that. “So, avoid using jargon or technical terms that can lose or confuse your audience. Instead, share insights and information in a way that people can understand. Your audience wants to be inspired and motivated, not learn some new words. All you’ll do is confuse them and get them to tune out,” says Oliver Thomson, a writer at ViaWriting and Essayroo.
4. Not Preparing
When you’re unprepared, that’s when you end up falling back on unprofessional words like “um, uh, er.” You have to do your presentation completely prepared for anything so you don’t rely on words like that. Practice your speech a lot and in different ways so you don’t end up robotic and memorized. Practice your pauses as well and be comfortable with them. If you use certain words too much, your audience will get distracted and lose focus.
5. Speaking Too Fast or Slow
You’ll want to pay a lot of attention to how quickly or slowly you’re speaking. While you might not be thinking about the speed of your speech, your audience will certainly notice it. If you speak too quickly, they won’t be able to keep up and will tune out. On the other hand, if you speak too slowly, you might be putting your audience members to sleep. Instead, focus on your pronunciation, and get a lot of practice in front of loved ones who can give you feedback. If you don’t want to do that, try recording yourself and listening back to improve.
6. No Core Message
When you don’t have a core message or it’s not clear, that’s the easiest way to lose your audience. A big issue is when the speaker is too busy promoting themself or just speaking about something that has nothing to do with the purpose of the presentation. The audience doesn’t want to know about the speaker, they want the message and to feel inspired. The audience will most likely know all about you if they’re attending your speech. All of your speech should be somehow connected to the message.
7. Going Too Long
You want to be sure to finish your presentation at the right time. Your audience probably has plans and places to be, so you want to make sure that you finish the presentation when it’s supposed to. Or else, they will start fidgeting and looking at their watches. “Be sure to always start on time, and you should know how long each section of your speech should take. That way, you can always know how much time you have left for other sections,” explains Rachel Paul, an editor at Writingpopulist and TopCanadianWriters. The more you prepare and rehearse, the more you can keep track of your time and whether you’re on pace.
8. Think About Clothes
First impressions matter, and it’s what your audience will remember. You will be observed and judged as soon as you get on stage from your body language to your clothes and confidence. Think a lot about what you’ll wear and make sure it’s comfortable so you’re not constantly fidgeting with your clothes during your speech. The audience doesn’t want to be sidetracked from the message by your wardrobe malfunctions.
9. Leaving Your Phone On
Finally, the worst thing that could happen is for your phone to go off during your speech, or someone’s phone in the audience. Remember to put yours on silent before you start, and ask your audience members to do the same before your speech. Better yet, don’t even bring yours up with you.
As a public speaker, there are many mistakes to be had, even though that are unintentional. So, remember these 9 mistakes, and learn to avoid them. In this way, you can be one of the best public speakers in your field.