Avoid 5 of The Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes

Don’t Be That Speaker

fire up your public speaking skills
© Can Stock Photo / AndreyPopov

Conferences, workshops, company meetings.  We’ve all been to public speaking presentations that did not fulfill expectations.  The speaker doesn’t deliver, his content falls flat, and everyone is disappointed, feeling like they wasted their time.

When you’re asked to present for whatever reason, don’t be that speaker.

Here are the key mistakes to avoid in public speaking

  1. Being Boring.  There’s nothing worse than a dry, monotone speaker who has zero enthusiasm.  Avoid that by getting excited about your content, by varying your pitch, speech rate, volume and vocal tone.  Your energy and passion is contagious: show it and fire up your audience.

2. Relying on AV.  “Death by Powerpoint,” means standing there and reading your slides.  If you must use slides, have big photos and very few words.  Use funny slides. Videos are great, but audio can fail. Let your material stand on its own.

3. Letting Anxiety Win  Everyone gets nervous; good speakers convert that adrenaline into enthusiasm. Shaking, high pitched voices, pacing or licking your lips are all signs of anxiety.

Instead of giving into the nerves, do this:
• Breathe deeply from the belly
• Swallow rather than clearing your throat
• Shrug your shoulder and roll your neck
• Smile and realize everyone wants you to succeed
• Practice and “own” your message
• Visualize a successful outcome – Believe in the value you offer

4. No eye contact and no smiles.  Audiences don’t trust speakers who won’t look them in the eye.  Smiling at people shows you’re confident.

5. No audience involvement.  Today’s audiences have very short attention spans, and if they can look at their phones while you’re speaking, they will.  Engage them every 10 minutes.  Use dyads, small groups, ask questions, do surveys, play games. Get them on their feet engaging with your material.

Sooner or later, almost every professional has to do public speaking.  Know your content well, practice, get the nerves out before you go on, and smile.  Get everyone involved, having fun, and they are sure to remember you and your message – in a good way.


A 25 year professional speaker, Snowden provides private coaching on presentation skills. Contact her at 904-200-6995 or email her at orders@firedupnow.com to schedule your session.

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