Check with just about any professional speaker or pick up a book at the book store on public speaking and you’ll get some great advice. They’ll tell you exactly what you SHOULD be doing. That’s all good, but what’s been missing has been anyone talking about the other side of that coin – what should you NOT be doing?
Don’t Apologize To Your Audience
Things happen. In fact a lot of things happen that we really have no control over. As a presenter, you’ve got to learn to just go with the flow.
During your presentation you may realize that something is wrong with one of the slides that you are using. You may realize that something is missing from your slides. None of this really matters to your audience.
When you start to apologize to your audience, they are going to start to see you in a different light. Since you have already screwed something up, they are going to start to wonder what else you are getting incorrect.
It’s a natural human reaction to want to apologize for things that happen that you didn’t plan on. Stifle this tendency. Say nothing and move on – your audience will never know and you’ll remain the expert presenter in their eyes.
Don’t Tell The Audience Why They Should Care
All too often I see speakers take the stage and then launch into their presentation without doing the correct first step. This first step is taking a moment to have a talk with your audience about why they are there and why you are there.
If you can’t answer this question right off the bat, then the purpose for your entire presentation will be lost. It’s your responsibility to tell your audience why they should care about what you are going to be talking about.
You are in a unique position: you know what you are going to be talking about. Your job before you start your presentation is to take the time to tell your audience why what you are going to be saying is important to them.
Don’t Customize Your Presentation To Your Audience
One of the greatest sins that a presenter can make is to use a generic presentation with an audience. Every audience is different and deserves to have a custom presentation.
When we create a speech, we always have to picture some type of audience in our minds. Hopefully when we give the speech, we’ll be giving it to that type of audience. If we go on and give the speech to another audience, then the speech needs to be changed and shaped to meet the needs of that audience.
If you don’t do this, then the speech will never make an impact. Your ability to connect with an audience relies on talking to them in their language so that you can make a real connection.
Don’t Overload Your Audience
You are too smart and that’s a problem. If you are not careful, you’ll write your speech from your point-of-view and not your audience’s. This could result in a data overload situation.
You need to remember that the reason that your audience has come to listen to what you have to say is that they believe that they can learn something. No matter what the format of your speech is, they believe that you’re going to tell them something that is going to allow them to see the world in a different way when you are done.
If you share everything that you know about your topic with them, then they are quickly going to become overloaded – it’s just too much to take in. Once this happens, you will have lost them. They’ll leave your speech feeling confused, upset, and angry.
You need to match your speech’s content to the amount of time that you’ll be talking for. Your goal should be to share new information with your audience, but only enough so that they walk away with a few new ideas. Don’t try to share everything with them in a single speech.
What All Of This Means For You
Great speakers know what they have to do in order to win the hearts and minds of their audiences. They also know what they should not do.
These speakers avoid simple mistakes such as apologizing to their audiences, forgetting to tell the audience why they should care about what the speaker is going to talk about, forgetting to customize their presentation, and overloading their audience with too much information.
These mistakes are easy to avoid – but first you have to know that they are out there. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to delivering fantastic presentations…
Question For You: What is the best way to determine if your speech has too much information in it?
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Sure it’s all good for me to go on and on about how you can improve your public speaking skills; however, what happens when I get the call to come and deliver a keynote speech in front of a room of strangers? It’s times like this that everything that I’ve learned about public speaking gets put to the test. Do you want to know how it all turned out?