Mishaps & Moments of Brilliance:
10 Surefire Ways To Bomb or Blow Away Your Audience During a Presentation
Have you ever given a presentation and thought afterward, “Boy, did I mess up!” I certainly have. In fact, I’ve given over 1700 presentations around the world and have had some impressive speaking mishaps that left me the talk of the room…but not in a good way. However, my experiences haven’t been all bad. (I wouldn’t be where I am today if they had!) I’ve also had some days when I walked away saying, “That was awesome! They loved me! Man, was I on today!”
My differing experiences led me to wonder why I was hot some days and cold on others. So, I began to analyze my presentations. I discovered that the difference was what I had done before and / or during each presentation. My actions determined the impression my presentation had on my audience. From that point on, I began keeping track of the audience feedback from my presentations as well as presentations I watched others give. First up: A crash course on the worst speaking mishaps I’ve made or witnessed…
- Speaking Mishap #1: Making the presentation about what matters to you.
- Speaking Mishap #2: Starting your presentation by apologizing.
- Speaking Mishap #3: Beginning your speech by yelling, “Good Morning! I know you’re there, I can hear you breathing!” two to three times to get your audience’s attention.
- Speaking Mishap #4: Bombarding your audience with irrelevant or widely known facts and figures.
- Speaking Mishap #5: Pointing to a slide and saying, “I know you can’t see this in the back but…”
- Speaking Mishap #6: Reading your slides aloud to the audience. Or worse, making an audience member read them!
- Speaking Mishap #7: Reciting your speech word-for-word in a monotone voice.
- Speaking Mishap #8: Not being aware of what your “crutch words” are. For instance, saying “by the way,” “you know,” “umm,” and “uh” repeatedly.
- Speaking Mishap #9: Standing behind the lectern, hoping it’ll hide your insecurity or protect you from an inquisitive audience.
- Speaking Mishap #10: Attempting to talk to everyone in your audience at the same time by scanning and looking over everyone’s heads while constantly pacing back and forth.
If you’ve made any of the mistakes above, it’s likely that you’ve turned off a few audiences in your time. But guess what? It also means that you will remember your mishap experience and won’t make the mistake again. (Promise me you won’t make them again!) So, keep your previous speaking mishaps in mind, and adopt the following Speaking Mastery tips to blow your audiences away every time…
Speaking Mastery Tip #1: Get mentally ready and psyche yourself up before you step out in front of the room. Why? Energy is contagious! Therefore, if you’re energetic about your presentation—shown by how you speak and move—your audience will be too.
Speaking Mastery Tip #2: Blow your audience away with your (real or imagined) confidence. Whether you’re making a presentation at work or as a paid speaker, be confident. The identity you want to project is your Personal Best Identity. That’s the notion that you’ve got to fake it to make it! Why? Lack of confidence will make the audience lose their confidence in you as the expert they expect you to be. So, despite how nervous you may be, put on a brave face, step to the front of the room, and BE an authority!
Speaking Mastery Tip #3: Put the audience first! Remember; never let what you have to say get in the way of what the audience needs to hear. Design your presentation to meet the needs and expectations of your audience…and reinforce the points you want to get across within that material.
Speaking Mastery Tip #4: Lead off your presentation with an attention-getting open. For instance, speak as if you are in the middle of a conversation. Relay a surprising fact. Tell an interesting story. Do something unexpected. You choose, but make sure whatever you do is directly related to the purpose of your presentation.
Speaking Mastery Tip #5: Think of your audience as people that you can have a conversation with rather than a sea of voiceless faces. If you think and conduct your presentation as if it’s a conversation, your presentation won’t seem rehearsed or robotic. In fact, it will feel very natural and relaxed.
Speaking Mastery Tip #6: Drive your key points home by giving an example based on research you’ve done rather than reciting your research.
Speaking Mastery Tip #7: Tell your audience something they don’t know then couple that with a perspective that they could not or would not likely think of themselves.
Speaking Mastery Tip #8: Remember that you are the presenter, not the PowerPoint slides. Each PowerPoint slide should have a purpose within your presentation but the slides should not be your presentation.
Speaking Mastery Tip #9: Make and hold eye contact with individuals in each area and invest some time (at least 5 seconds) in each person you “speak with” during your presentation.
Speaking Mastery Tip #10: Approach every presentation as the professional that you are or desire to be. In my experience, the best way to do that is by (a) preparing a mind map or outline to make remembering your presentation’s key points easier, (b) recording yourself so you’re aware of your crutch phrases and (c) practicing what you want to say out loud so your presentation becomes second nature to you!
I am on a mission to prevent bad presentations from happening to good people! So, please, take my advice. I’ve seen and heard the chatter after presenters have made the speaking mishaps above and have been around to hear the praises of those who used my Speaking Mastery tips. Following my advice will save your reputation as a presenter, and keep your audience inviting you back again and again.
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