3 Mistakes Good Speakers Make

by drjim on March 4, 2014

Even the best speakers can make wrong turns while speaking

Even the best speakers can make wrong turns while speaking

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We’ve all heard and see the very best speakers like Tony Robbins. They know all about the importance of public speaking and they never make mistakes, right? Well, actually they do make mistakes. As speakers who are working to become better all the time, we can listen and learn from the mistakes that they make.

Time Limiting Their Words

I’m sure that you’ve all heard / see this being done. A speaker makes the statement “I’m going to take just a few minutes to cover this topic…” The problem with using this kind of time limiting phrase is that it takes a lot of power away from what you are saying.

A better way of stating this is to say something like “I’m now going to discuss this topic.” You can now take as long as you want to, you haven’t limited yourself by stating that something is going to take a certain amount of time to cover.

Turning Sentences Into Questions

Not every statement that a speaker makes is a question. However, if they are making a common speaking mistake the audience might be hearing a lot more questions than the speaker intended. If the speaker raises the pitch of their voice when they come to the end of a sentence, then it’s going to sound a lot like a question.

The solution to this mistake is to take control of your voice. Realize when you are making a statement. Take the time to make your statements sound like a statement by dropping your voice when you reach the end of the statement.

Switching Questions For Sentences

Some speakers fear confrontation. In their speeches they have bold ideas – plans for what needs to be done. However, since they are fearful of coming across as being too pushy or demanding, they transform their statements into questions. They say things like “Maybe we should increase the advertising budget to meet the needs of the new project?”

The reasons for making this transformation are varied, but they generally come down the simple fact that the speaker doesn’t want to claim power. The problem with doing this is that your audience won’t hear what you are saying – they’ll dismiss your question and won’t hear the idea that you are trying to get across.

What All Of This Means For You

When speakers go to bed at night, we all dream that one day we’d become just like the famous speakers that we’ve seen and that we’d never make any mistakes when we give a speech. The reality is that we’ll always make mistakes and even the best speakers still make them.

These mistakes can take on many different forms. Sometimes a professional speaker will make the mistake of saying that they are “… just going to take a minute…” when they really have much more to say. They can also turn sentences into questions simply by ending them incorrectly. Finally, questions can be powerful tools, but not when they are substituted for a sentence.

We will not turn into a polished professional speaker overnight. These things take time and one of the benefits of public speaking is that they happen little by little. One way that we can make progress towards our goal is by being aware of the types of mistakes that professional speakers make and making sure that we don’t make the same mistakes.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If you catch yourself making one of these 3 mistakes during a speech, what should you do?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So you’ve decided that you want to maximize the importance of public speaking for your next audience and in order to move your speaking to the next level, you are going to have to find ways to work more humor into your next speech. Well congratulations, that takes a great deal of courage to do. Now you’re going to have to answer the ultimate question: should you go blue?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ian March 6, 2014 at 10:05 am

Your point about many speakers fearing confrontation is really worth delving into.

Over the years, I’ve experienced a high level of success as a competitive public speaker, and I often deliver workshops to clubs on how to approach certain types of speaking contests where I share my own personal views or take on competition. My views can be controversial and occasionally unorthodox, but rather than water them down by stating them as a question, I preface by stating that these views are things that work for me, and that they might work for some of you as well, but that not all successful speakers approach things in the same manner – my views are tools for your consideration. Then I unapologetically launch in to my presentation and hammer home the why’s and hows of what I do and why my approach is effective.

When we have to present something controversial, I think it’s a good idea to acknowledge it right up front, and then get on with making your case for the stand that you take.

Don’t be embarrassed to have an opinion.

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