So, tell me, what happens when you get on stage?
Do you start strong, end strong, and tell a great, entertaining story in between that makes your audience feel sad that your speech is over, thrilled at what they learned and surprised by how
quickly time flew by?
Because… that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to go.
But often, this isn’t what actually happens.
Here’s the truth. You’ve picked the best and the worst time to be a speaker.
On the one hand, the internet and globalization give you a myriad of opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills, to meet new people and gain exposure without investing a lot of money.
But on the other hand, there are a lot of people doing what you do, wanting what you want, and striving to achieve what you want to achieve. And today’s audiences are overwhelmed by so much noise, that they get bored pretty quickly – regardless of what your topic may be.
So, let’s try this again… what happens when you get on stage?
Are people listening to you, or are they checking their watches more than they’re looking at the stage?
If it’s the first – keep doing what you’re doing!
And if it’s the latter, chances are you are making one (or more) of these 6 mistakes.
1. Reading from a PowerPoint Presentation
Nothing will kill your audience’s interest faster than merely repeating the words you’ve typed on your PowerPoint slides a couple of nights before.
These people did not come to see you read – they’ve come to see you speak. The same goes for the event’s organizer; they hired you to entertain, motivate and inspire the event’s attendees – and you can’t do any of these things if your entire presentation consists of staring at your slides.
You can have slides for your speech, but these should support your presentation, not be the entire show.
Remember that people will connect with you through the stories you tell and the emotions you make them feel, and you can’t make them feel anything if the only eye contact you’re making is with the screen behind you.
2. Speaking in a Monotone Voice
Much like a boring text with long sentence after long sentence, speaking in a monotone voice will make you lose your audience in a matter of minutes.
Vocal inflection is what keeps people listening – it is what lets them know what’s important, gives them cues about what they need to feel, about how confident you are, about a certain point you’re making and makes the entire presentation more interesting to hear.
Without vocal inflection, your speech is just a meaningless string of words.
Start practicing varying up your pitch, your tone, and pausing: You can use a higher pitch to punctuate or highlight different sections of your speech you want the audience to pay particular attention to, or pause to highlight a point.
This will keep your audience alert and more focused on what you’re saying.
3. Standing as Still as a Statue
Movement is to the body what inflection is to the voice.
Your posture and movements need to match your tone and support your message. If you’re looking to become a true expert in a field, stick to it.
To visually stimulate your audience, use gestures as you would when speaking normally. And, unless you are required to stand behind a podium, move around the stage so you can be seen by everyone in the audience.
Just make sure that you’re not moving too much. Too much of anything is bad, so all keep your movements purposeful.
A good rule of thumb is to move when you transition from one part of the speech to the next or when you are trying to illustrate a point in a story. There are several different categories of gestures and studies have shown the power and importance of gestures. They can draw attention and support and strengthen your claims.
4. Taking Too Long to Get Started
Did you know that contemporary people have the attention span of goldfish?
Okay maybe not literally…but pretty close.
Is this something that you think would be fun and enjoyable or personally enriching?
My point is, you have mere seconds to capture your audience’s attention, so use a strong hook and grab them fast.
A hook can be a joke, a personal story or a shocking statistic – but whatever it is it needs to get your audience to reach early on in your speech.
5. Trying to sound too smart
Another very common mistake, especially among people that are very knowledgeable in a particular industry.
When you’re on stage, you’re not speaking to your industry peers, but to a crowd that might not know a lot about your subject, so keep it simple and avoid using too many industry-specific words.
True experts don’t hide behind complex terms. Remember Einstein’s quote: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
6. Showing Little Enthusiasm
If you’re not excited about your own topic, how do you expect others to be?
When choosing a topic, pick one that you’re actually passionate about (believe me, people can feel when your passion is real!) and then SHARE your enthusiasm about this thing with others!
And that’s it – the 6 mistakes that can kill your presentation and bore your audience, regardless of how interesting and significant your topic may be.
How many of them are you making (if any)?
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how to up your speaking game.
See you on the inside!