The JF Guest Author Spot
Top 10 mistakes presenters make:
10. Thinking everybody's a comedian: If you are funny, good for you! Everyone loves to laugh, and Lord knows grown-ups don't laugh nearly as much as we should. BUT, you don't have to be funny to be a good presenter. In fact, the only thing you DO have to be is yourself. Audiences only listen to people they trust, and the only way to be trusted is to be authentic. The only way to be authentic is to be YOU.
9. Being a stranger in a strange land: Always get to the site of your presentation early; the day before if possible, but at least a half hour before you're scheduled to appear. If you're speaking at a conference, you need to be there even earlier, and be prepared to "go on". Often a previous speaker will go short, or worse, not show up. You need to be there and be ready. More important, when you arrive early you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the room in which you'll be speaking and you'll get to meet some of your audience members; a great way to break the ice and increase your comfort level. Most important, if you've had the opportunity to meet a few of your guests, you can mention them or their area of expertise in your speech and exponentially increase audience interest.
8. Winging it: I am always astounded at people who tell me (with pride) that they don't prepare for their speeches; they prefer to speak "off the cuff". Yikes. This is like walking the trapeze without a net and WORSE showing a complete lack of respect for your audience. You MUST plan and prepare no matter if you are speaking for 10 minutes or 10 times that. NO one likes to listen to someone ramble, meander, digress or repeat themselves. I believe it was Mark Twain who said extemporaneous speaking requires LOTS of preparation. Just do it.
7. Going Long: It is NEVER NEVER a good idea to speak longer than your allotted time. You should either end a few minutes early or finish right on time. In fact, if you are one of many speakers, and you're speaking right before lunch or worse, just before the end of the day, make yourself a hero and go 10 minutes short. Then make yourself available for questions at lunch, cocktail hour, etc. Those who want to hear more will seek you out. Everyone else will LOVE you simply for being sympathetic to their empty stomachs and full minds.
6. Telling it All: You're the expert, and they've come to hear you speak. The common impulse is to tell them everything you know. WRONG. The best way to organize your material is around the rule of threes, something I consider magic. I strongly discourage you from ever trying to put across more than five main points. Why? It's simple. Your audience can't retain more than five, and if you insist on giving them more, they will 1.) Dump everything you've said up to that point and 2.) Become angry. They worked hard to hold on to your first five points and need you to wrap up, not move on to point six, seven, etc. Be clear, concise, and considerate. Organize your thoughts in 3 big bundles so that your audience can do the same.
5. Apologizing: Nothing makes an audience more uncomfortable than hearing a speaker apologize for something a.) They hadn't even noticed, b.) Had no way of knowing was wrong or missing, and c.) Is distracting them from getting the message. Remember, the audience doesn't know the order or number of your slides. If you find your slides are messed up, or some are missing, keep it to yourself!! Likewise with anything else that might go wrong that YOU know about but the audience doesn't - ignorance is bliss.
4. Reading: You should never ever read a slide, flip chart, overhead, handout etc., unless you're presenting to kindergarteners or anyone else who doesn't know how to read. An audience can read 7-10 times faster than you can speak. Plus, they CAN READ. Why should they sit and listen to you read it to them? I cannot tell you how many times I've heard people complain of having to sit through a presentation where the speaker read slide after text-intensive slide. "Jeez", they say," If I'd known he/she was just going to read the whole thing, they could have emailed me the slides and saved me the time and trouble."
3. Creating visuals that aren't aids: Speaking of reading slides, you should never show slides, or overheads, or flip charts that are text intensive. Period. Your visual aids should always be something that says what you (with words) cannot. Get it? We're talking charts, graphs, pictures, cartoons, music. Any visual aid you create should act as a synergistic component; it should illuminate in ways that are beyond you and your words.
2. Neglecting to Practice: There is simply no way around this one. You MUST practice. OUT LOUD. And you must know your introduction and conclusion cold. The easiest way to let "stage fright" get the better of you is to allow yourself to stand up in front of a group of people without ever having heard the words you're about to say come out of your mouth. All of the great speakers practice, and they practice a lot.
1. Not getting HELP: None of us is good at everything. Ham that I am, I wouldn't try and do my own taxes EVER. My wonderful genius accountant does my taxes (and he happens to be a good public speaker too). If you are struggling with any or all of the BIG TEN, get help!! You'll be glad you did, and on your way to being heard.
Debbie Fay is the founder of bespeak presentation solutions, a presentations coaching company that helps clients build and deliver presentations that get heard and get results. Debbie has helped hundreds of people of all ages and vocations become confident compelling change-making speakers.
Ed: Debbie has also recently joined the exclusive ranks of the Top Sales Experts team.
Today's News: Tibor Shanto, another recent recruit to the Top Sales Experts team and a really nice guy is in conversation with another really nice guy, Clayton Shold over at Salesopedia - "How To Shorten Your Sales Cycle" you can listen in here
To those of you celebrating - happy May Day.
Tomorrow: I look at the five main drivers for optimal organisational performance - and there really are only five
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