Effective Public Speaking

Ever stood in front of a crowd, heart pounding, palms sweaty, and thought, “How did I get myself into this mess?” Public speaking can feel like walking a tightrope, where one misstep could lead to disaster — or so it seems.

But guess what? Most of the time, the difference between a standing ovation and a painful silence comes down to dodging a few common pitfalls.

I’m going to share seven big no-nos that have tripped up many and how steering clear of them can turn your next speaking gig from nerve-wracking to speaking nirvana.


The Seven Killer Presentation No-Nos You’ll Want to Avoid

When I watch people crash and burn in front of crowds or in conference rooms, I feel badly because their failures are so avoidable and their mistakes so easy to fix.

If only they knew what these simple mistakes were!

One example recently was a scientist who spoke at an environmental conference.

He knew a lot about his subject but almost nothing about how to share that knowledge.

Here’s what happened:

  1. His presentation was designed improperly. He should have started with his conclusion (message) since he never made it to a conclusion.
  2. He spoke much too long. Forty minutes would have been plenty – twenty minutes of talking and twenty minutes of Q and A.
  3. He tried to talk about too much.
  4. He used too many visual aids and used them incorrectly (dense word slides, complex graphics, data-rich charts impossible to read or understand).
  5. He allowed his presentation to dominate him– and ultimately overwhelm him. He ended up frantically trying to cram a ton of information into our heads, a strategy that had the same likelihood for success as trying to jam an elephant into a golf bag.
  6. He had no theme (if there’s no theme, chances are you’re not going to be able to remember much of what you just heard).
  7. It wasn’t going well, and he knew it–for the reasons we’ve discussed—so he came across as uncomfortable and nervous.

Effective public speaking isn’t about having a PhD in “Big Words” or being as charismatic as a movie star. It’s about connecting with your audience and delivering your message clearly and confidently.

So, the next time you’re up to bat, avoid these seven no-nos.

With a little practice, you’ll not only avoid these common public speaking mistakes but also leave your audience inspired and wanting more.

NEXT: Great Leadership Communication – What is it worth?