By Featured Speaker Arvee Robinson
1. Getting there late.
Walking frantically into a room full of people who have been waiting for you to arrive can be an embarrassing situation. Unless you are a magician, you might as well turn around and leave. It would take a miracle to get this audience to forget the inconvenience you have caused them. They probably have already passed judgment on you, deciding you’re an inconsiderate speaker rather than a viable expert in your field. Make the extra effort to arrive at least 1/2 hour before the event begins.
2. Apologizing before you start.
Starting off your presentation with “Uh, I’m sorry that I . . .” is the quickest, most assured way to lose your audience’s attention and leave them cold. Remember, YOU are the expert and true experts have nothing to be sorry for. The audience doesn’t care if you have a cold, woke up late, got caught in traffic, or tripped on a banana skin. All they care about is what information you’re going to give them that will benefit them in the shortest amount of time. Remember Love Story-“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
3. Not having a clear purpose.
Not having a clearly defined purpose for speaking is like driving to a restaurant in another city without a clue about how to get there. You’ll end up meandering, not really going anywhere, until finally the people in the car with you get frustrated, lose their patience, and take a mental exit, determined never to ride with you again. Decide why you are speaking, and to whom, and stick to it.
4. Pacing while you speak.
Walking back and forth is a BIG distraction to your audience. Not only will their necks hurt after the game of Ping-Pong that you just put them through, but you’ll have them anxiously wondering “Is this ever going to stop!?” Pacing keeps the audience from hearing what you’re saying. Movement is good; it keeps a presentation lively and interesting. However, it’s important to move with a purpose instead of meandering.
5. Swaying in the wind.
Like pacing, swaying in front of an audience is a HUGE no-no. Not only is it a distraction, it may even make your audience seasick. The best way to keep from swaying is to stand in the rooted position, which is when both feet are shoulder-length apart. Standing in this position will create a look of confidence and eliminate the temptation to sway.
6. Leaning on the lectern.
A surefire way to lose your audience’s confidence is to lean on the lectern. Not only does this casual style show a lack of respect to both the audience and the lectern, it also gives the appearance of a sloppy speaker. Treat the lectern as you would your child. Never lean on it, hit it, or leave it unattended.
7. Speaking in a monotone voice.
Speaking in a one-dimensional, monotone voice is boring, boring, boring. If you deliver your presentation using only one vocal pitch and rate, you’ll surely put your audience to sleep. People can’t grasp your message if they’re snoring. Therefore, it’s important to create excitement and keep interest by using a variety of vocal tones, pitches, and rates when you speak.
8. Avoiding eye contact.
The old adage “look above your audience’s head” is a bunch of hogwash and should never be done. If you don’t look at your audience, they’ll soon lose interest and ignore you, too. To reach your audience, you must connect with them. The best way to do this is by looking them directly in the eyes as you speak. That doesn’t mean you stare at them. It means you look at each person for about three to four seconds, then move on to the next person. Be careful not to bop your head from one side of the room to the other. Instead, slowly move from one person to the next in a sweeping motion.
9. Using the wrong hand gestures.
Inappropriate hand gestures such as placing your hands in your pockets or flailing them can be as distracting as pacing the floor. Keep hands and arms comfortably at your side ready to jump up and make a meaningful gesture. The best gestures are those that demonstrate an action or a point of measure. All gestures should add to the understanding of the message, not be distractions.
10. Taking a mental exit.
Forgetting what you’re going to say can really mess up a presentation. It can cause great awkwardness and often is hard to cover up. Typically, speakers forget what they’re going to say because they have either memorized their speech or relied too heavily on their notes. If this happens, simply return to the lectern, look down at your notes, pause and look up at your audience, and deliver the next line. The main message here is to not panic. Never let your audience see you sweat.
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Arvee Robinson is a Persuasive Speaking Coach, Master Speaker Trainer, International Speaker, and Author. She teaches business owners, service professionals, and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy so they can attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses, effortlessly. She teaches a proven system for delivering persuasive presentations, and easy to use formulas for creating a killer elevator pitch and a magnetic self-introduction. Arvee has helped hundreds of individuals to win clients and close more sales every time they speak. She offers private coaching, workshops, and weekly teleclasses. Her programs make people money for the rest of their lives.