Biggest Mistakes Speakers Make – And How To Avoid Them, Part 1

Want to be motivated to give a great presentation when asked to deliver one? Read on, and avoid these common mistakes that even experienced speakers make, and make your presentation dynamite!a) LACK OF FOCUS: In the rush of things, too many speakers feel they need to cram in as much information as possible in a presentation. Consequences – lack of focus, or an information overload. For a typical 30 minute presentation, you should be focused on making at most 3 -4 points. The rest of the time is spent reinforcing the points with relevant stories, pictures, video and examples. Remember, that not everyone absorbs information the same way. Do you prefer your audience to be squinting at a text-dense Powerpoint slide, or listening to your message/point?

b) PRESENTING A HANDOUT AS YOUR PRESENTATION: Shoot yourself the next time you present more than a few lines of text on Powerpoint. If you MUST include bags of information, dense graphs et al – create a totally separate handout that supports your presentation.

c) BEING A TALKING HEAD, OR A ZOO TIGER: Speakers often feel ‘ safe; anchored to a podium, when in fact, they could be enhancing their presentation by putting their whole body into the presentation, using their body language, gestures, postures and body ‘ shapes’ to drive home their messages. Plan to step away from the podium and present on stage in a relaxed collegial manner.

Depending on the height of the platform and podium, some speakers become ‘ talking heads’ with only their heads or upper shoulders visible to an audience. The other extreme is that when they move away from the podium, they pace up and down the stage; or move aimlessly on the stage, fretting away nervous energy, very much like a caged tiger. Stand still when making a key point, and move only if you need to – purposefully

d) TELLING JOKES: I once listened to another speaker sprinkle his message liberally with jokes and one-liners for 20 minutes. It only served to confuse me about the point of his message, as none of the humour was linked to the message. Learning point: Choose humour wisely, and ensure it enforces or supports a point you are making

Which of the above have you been guilty in committing?