Are you new to public speaking?
Whether you dream of becoming a legendary speaker or are simply hoping to drive more business, public speaking is one of the most rewarding skills you can have.
But, don’t be fooled…
It takes a lot of time, effort and practice to win over crowds.
However, there are a few quick and easy things you can do right away, when starting out, to greatly increase your chances of public speaking success.
Here are 10 common beginner mistakes to avoid and what to do instead.
Mistake #1 - Starting with Facts & Figures
No doubt, data serves its purpose but, NOT in the first few minutes of your speech.
Remember, you must engage with your audience right out the gate.
Grab their attention and stir up emotion by telling a personal and interesting story.
Then, drive home your main point with hard-hitting facts and figures.
HINT - people make decisions (like buying from you!) off of emotion, then, back their decisions with logic.
Mistake #2 - Forgetting to Rehearse
One of the biggest rookie mistakes is forgetting to rehearse.
A lack of practice leads to a lot of “ums” and “uhs.” Not to mention, utterly boring, long-winded and downright cringy speeches.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to PRACTICE before your big event.
What exactly should you practice?
Focus on perfecting these key areas:
- Body language: eye contact, gestures, etc.
- Style, voice & tone
- Subject matter
For best results, practice in the mirror or watch a recording of yourself (your phone will do).
Mistake #3 - Using Too Many Filler Words
Like, uh, you should, actually, not stuff your speeches with, um, filler words.
Do your audience a HUGE favor by removing filler words from ALL your communications.
When rehearsing, simply pause whenever you feel the urge of a “like” or “uh” crawling up your throat.
Also, by practicing your speech and knowing your material, you will greatly reduce the number of filler words you use on stage.
Mistake #4 - Not Knowing Your Audience
How are you going to connect with your audience if you don’t know anything about them?
Make sure you identify your target audience and uncover what they loathe, love, fear, desire, etc.
You can quickly learn all about them by browsing Facebook groups, online forums, Amazon reviews, etc.
The more you know about your audience, the easier it’ll be to connect, engage and influence them.
Mistake #5 - Overusing Visual Aids
Remember the good ole days when you gave a presentation in school?
How you would face away from your classmates, read all the words on screen, and fumble through each poorly designed slide…
Yeah, don’t do this.
Visual aids serve their purpose but don’t overuse them.
Piling on too much text or images overwhelms people and tells them that they’re listening to an amateur speaker.
Instead, use visual aids strategically.
Enhance your presentation by emphasizing the importance of your data (with graphs and comparisons) and bringing your stories to life with vivid imagery or captivating videos.
Mistake #6 - Sharing Too Much Information
Stuffing your audience’s brains with too much info is a BIG no-no.
Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be!
Focus on ONE main idea. The ONE thing you want your audience to understand and walk away with.
By making your message clear and concise, you’ll have a MUCH easier time holding your audience’s attention and winning them over to your business.
Mistake #7 - Not Including Your Audience
Ever sit through a painfully dull presentation?
It’s hard to engage your audience when you don’t interact with them.
Here are 5 ways to boost engagement and add a personal touch to every speech you give:
- Make eye contact (just a few seconds)
- Ask smart questions
- Pause right before and/or after the climax of your story
- Tell a joke (light humor, you don’t want to offend anyone)
Mistake #8 - Hiding Behind a Podium
It’s hard to connect with your audience when you’re hiding behind a podium, desk or any other physical object on stage.
Remove any barriers between you and your audience.
Doing so will help you come across as more confident, personal and in control.
Mistake # 9 - Speaking Too Fast or Not Speaking Loud Enough
Make no mistake about it, public speaking can be nerve-wracking.
Even for the pros!
But, just because you’re anxious, doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an amazing speech.
When you’re on stage (especially when you’re nervous), make a conscious effort of speaking loud, clear and at a normal, easy-to-follow pace.
Mistake #10 - No CTA
A common mistake many newbies and seasoned experts make is leaving out a call to action.
Tell your audience exactly what you’d like them to do before walking off stage (buy from you, attend your next event, etc.)
By giving your audience a clear takeaway action, you’ll capitalize on all your hard work and increase your chances of converting new customers.
Public speaking is a wonderful career and a very rewarding skill to gain.
If you study the top public speakers, practice your craft, and AVOID these common pitfalls that many new and experienced speakers make, you will be well on your way to public speaking success!