Almost everyone has to do some form of public speaking at some point. Whether you have to give a presentation to a few coworkers or you're delivering a keynote to a stadium full of people, you need to accomplish your goals of connecting with your audience, teaching something, and inspiring action.
It's easy to screw that up.
If you aren't hitting a home-run with your speeches, it's time to reflect, get feedback, and make the necessary changes.
Here are 3 ways you may be screwing up as a speaker:
1. You aren't preparing... properly.
Preparation means more than jotting down a few bullet points and going over your notes the night before a speech. To be truly prepared, you need to do the work. That means you need to research your topic, learn what the audience needs from you, figure out which stories and illustrations will enhance your talk, determine how best to start the talk, and decide how best to end it. Then you have to draft the talk, refine it, practice it, record yourself giving it, watch your practice video, make changes, practice again, and repeat. Lack of proper preparation is the biggest mistake I see speakers make. (Need help preparing? Click here.)
2. You don't know your audience.
It's imperative that you know who you're talking to so you can tell them what they need to hear in the way they need to hear it. Do they expect a casual talk or a formal presentation? Do they already know the basics about your topic, or do they need to know all the foundational information? Are they familiar with industry jargon? Think through exactly who your audience is. Think through age, gender, education level, industry, marital status, and any other relevant demographics. If you aren't sure, ask the event planner. (For more about knowing your audience, click here.)
3. You're a diva.
Are you speaking for you or for your audience? Are you making demands? What are your motives for speaking? All too often, I see otherwise talented speakers lose audiences through vanity and narcism. Speaking is serving. Check your pride at the door. Divas don't connect with audiences... they repel them. Audience members can see a diva coming a mile away. (For more on serving your audience, click here.)
It's easy to screw up as a public speaker, but it's also pretty easy to fix your issues. Take the time to really analyze your most recent presentations. Be honest with yourself about each of the three issues I described above, and change accordingly. If you aren't sure how, click here and let's talk about how we can work on it together.
Are you making any of the mistakes we talked about in this article? If so, click here and let's work on it.