Common Mistakes Speakers Make

As a Training Professional with over 15 years of Public Speaking Experience, I have delivered many presentations to groups wanting to know….how to make better presentations. I have several clients who I work with one-on-one, to help them to become more effective speakers. Recently, I spoke before a group sponsored by our local Chamber of Commerce or presentation skills, and have a follow up class scheduled after the first of the year.

Leading up to this class, I thought I would twist some Tips on Public Speaking into my regular blog stream, to give you something to speak about the next time you have a group in front of you.

I introduce to you the following thoughts about public speaking. I don’t profess to be perfect, either, and I’m willing to bet that if you consider the last presentation you gave, you might have fallen into one or more of the following ‘traps’:

1) Confusing Title or Competency with Natural Speaking Ability.

Remember, Just because you have a certain job responsibility doesn’t mean you necessarily know everything. I know a lot of CEOs who really are brilliant, but they lose all command pof the English language if they are speaking to more than 3 people at once.

Second, even if you are fairly knowledgeable it doesn’t mean you can speak effectively. So you’ve earned that title. You’ve spent ten years with the company, and now they are sending you to headquarters to address a group of Senior Executives about why they should not close your plant.

Finally, just because you are speaking does not mean that anybody is listening. Anybody who has kids has probably learned this long ago. Whether you’re talking about kids, employees, or customers, the more you speak, sometimes, the less they listen.

2) Not Knowing Your Audience.

When possible, learn a little bit about who you will be presenting to. Are they seasoned at their jobs, or new in the industry. Who in the group is likely to know something about your topic? They may be able to help you present information later on, and that’s ok.

3) Death by PowerPoint.

PowerPoint can be a very valuable tool, but it is often misused and abused. If you use PowerPoint, I recommend the following be considered:

* Only use it if you have a real use for it, such as to keep YOU on track, to show pictures or screen shots, and that sort of thing.

* Use bullet points on screen, rather than full sentences. You are the speaker, so you can expand upon what they say.

* Leave out the fancy music and graphics. You will spend way more time trying to get it perfect, and it really won’t add that much to your presentation.

* Keep the lights up. Lowering the lights will have a detrimental effect on your audience. This means getting a good projector. A new DLP Projector only needs to be about $500 or so.

* Move around the room. Your movement will shift the energy of the room, and keep people motivated (read: Awake). If you will be using PowerPoint, invest another $40 and get a remote, so you can advance slides without being chained to the computer.

4) Reading To Your Audience.

If you’re just going to read to your audience, then mail it to them. If you are going to present the information, then present it well. Make eye contact with different individuals for 3-5 seconds at a time, then change to another individual. Then you are just having a one on one conversation with different people.

These are merely some ideas to have in your head before you go to your next presentation. In the coming weeks, I will also publish some other tips, and preparation techniques to help you avoid some of these traps. In the mean time, if you are interested in more information about the 2010 Presentation Skills Seminar schedule, please shoot me an email at