Tuesday, June 28, 2016

10 Ways a Speaker’s Message Can Go Wrong

Let's dive in!
  1. You do not appear to be enjoying yourself. If you don’t think what you have to share is adding value to your audience, why should they?
  2. You don’t really know your stuff. You can’t fake expertise. There will always be someone ready to call you on your vagueness or misinformation either immediately, or after they have Googled what you said.
  3. It’s not really your material. Make the material your own work. It’s okay to quote or allude to the work of others with proper attribution. And as a practical matter, you are always more excited about your own discoveries. Your message will feel much more authentic.
  4. You have not practiced. It doesn’t matter how well you know the material or how many times you have presented it. Each audience is unique, and you need to practice for each one.
  5. Too much improvisation. Unless you are in the top 10% of presenters (sadly more than 90% of speakers think they are), you need to stick pretty closely to the talk you have written.
  6. Not enough improvisation. From time to time, something in the room will provide you the chance to go off-script to be humorous or to build rapport with the audience. If you let something obvious go by and stick to the script, it could be awkward and make you look disconnected.
  7. You don’t look at people. If you are in a large enough room, look at the heads of people on the back and middle rows from one side of the room to another. Every person on every row will feel you have looked at and made a connection with them.
  8. You tell bad jokes. Never tell a joke you have not tried out in a safer arena. As much as you can, unless you are a professional comic, know that it will work ahead of time.
  9. You don’t actually say much. Anyone can talk a long time. Make sure you have something to say. Know your audience and what they will respond to. Give them something useful that will add value to their lives or work and make them leave saying, “That was worth my time!”
  10. You talk too long. Almost anyone can make a great 10 minute speech. Unfortunately, most take about 25 minutes to do it. Err on the side of brevity and leaving them wanting more.
Bonus: You have not prepared well. This one is not in the main list because it seems obvious. Yet I am always amazed at how many people just wing it. Please prepare. When you don't, there is likely to be poor flow, nothing much that's memorable, nothing new, little cohesion to your message, and it goes nowhere. It's not just what you say, but how you say it that will make your message sink or set sail.

Encouragement: Remember, you are not giving the audience your time. They are giving you theirs. Reward them with something of value that makes audience members feel like being around you, and hearing what you have to share improves them. If they have invited you to speak, chances are you have something of value to offer. So put in the effort and knock 'em dead! You can do this! Be encouraged!!

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