Please for the love of God stop doing these things in your speeches. They are the classic newbie mistakes, and once you know them you won’t be able to miss them.
I get it. If you’ve not done much speechifying you may not even think about these things. Some are obvious, but some a subtle. Some it just takes a conscious choice on your part to do, others will take time and training.
Don’t start with a joke or a thank you.
I’m not going to go into that one too much because I already explained it in the How to Start A Speech video. Check it out if you haven’t already.
That change is simply because once you know it, you know to avoid it.
The next may take some training on your part.
Newbies read their speeches.
Newbies read their speech. Either off a piece of paper or their phones.
There are all kinds of problems with this. The biggest is a lack of eye contact. You should be looking at your audience as you speak. Both to connect with them and to watch their reactions.
Now there is a debate among speakers wether you should write out your whole speech or just make an outline. There are speakers that do both well, so find out what works for you.
Here’s what I do.
I write out the whole speech early on. Generally I do this by picking a structure, filing out the outline of it, and then writing out the whole thing. The reason I do this is so I can work out stories and transitions.
Then I may go down to an outline for practice. When I give the actual speech, I don’t use any notes.
Turning your outline into slides and then reading those slides.
Ahhh PowerPoints. I could go on a rant here, but I’ll try and restrain myself.
Three quick points about slides.
Number 1: Do you really, really need them?
Most speeches don’t need slides. Unless you have to visually show something, you don’t need slides.
Number 2: Don’t read them.
Too many people turn around – putting their backs to the audience – and just read the stuff on your slides.
If everything is in the slide, why do I need you to read it for me? Matter of fact, why do I need you at all?
Number 3: Use the 10-20-30 rule when creating them.
Coined by Guy Kawasaki for start-ups pitching to VCs, 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30pt font. If you just use the 30 pt rule, you’ll fix a lot of the problems with your slides.
Pointing out your mistakes.
This one is a pet peeve of mine. Newbs tell you when they make a mistake.
Many start their speech apologizing for not preparing enough, or not being a good speaker, or how nervous they are.
Those are not how to start a speech.
Look if you make a mistake one of two things is going to happen with the audience.
First, and most likely, they aren’t going to notice. So don’t point it out to them.
Second, they will notice, so you don’t need to point it out to them. Just move on like it was no big deal.
Not getting to the point.
One of the keys to creating great content. Whether in writing, or speaking, is to cut out what isn’t needed. Focus. Niche down.
A classic sign you are a newbie is wondering around talking about whatever, getting distracted, going on tangents, and never getting to the point.
Know what you want to convey. Then cut everything that doesn’t have to do with that message.
There are lots of speaker mistakes out there. But if you can clean out these, your speech will go to the next level.
- Don’t start with a joke or a thank you.
- Don’t read your speech.
- Don’t use a PowerPoint as an outline.
- Don’t point out your mistakes
- And get to the point.
Question of the Day: What speaking mistake drive you crazy?