It does not matter whether it’s a pitch, annual meeting or conference; the essential goals of public speaking are the same – to deliver some kind of information and to persuade an audience. This checklist will guide you towards avoiding common mistakes in communication with audience by emphasizing aspects determining success.
Starting with a catchy introduction
Good start – and half of the job is done. Catchy introduction determines the first impression and sends a signal (a “hook”) for the audience that the speaker is about to talk on something big. In other words, it raises expectations and later on it’s the speaker’s tasks to make sure those expectations are satisfied. The worst case scenario is a frequent mistake of being too honest and frank and starting by confessing how nervous you are or even worse – apologizing and diminishing yourself or your speech. Making audience to feel sorry for you is definitely not an option.
Delivery is equally important as the content
Preparing content and putting it together is important, but it’s not all. Content contributes to only 7% of impact of public speech. Remaining part depends on how the speaker talks, looks and behaves. Forgetting to be relaxed and standing stagnant would not make a good impression. Audience wants to see enthusiastic, energetic and confident speaker. Body language can do magic.
Speaking in your own words
Reading everything from notes or slides is a critical mistake when communicating with public. People are able to read, but they came to hear what you are going to say to them.
Engaging an audience
Speaking to the back wall and building a boundary between speaker and the audience oppose to the essence of communication as a two-way process. Pattern “I tell you what I planned, you listen, everyone goes home” must be forgotten forever. Reaching the goal of public speaking to persuade and make an impact is impossible without the audience getting involved. Everything counts: short questions from time to time (rhetorical ones or, for example, asking to name something relevant for your point), use of gentle topic-related humor, using interactive voting tools.As for interactive voting, you can use online tools. It allows the audience to participate in your presentation and it adds the element of gamification. After all everyone loves games.
Silence break is not a fault
Thinking that silence breaks are critical mistakes is wrong. Talking non-stop brings monotony and is hard for audience to listen attentively. Some speakers have a bad habit to clutter their speeches with extraneous “ummm” sounds just to avoid silence. Instead, well managed short pauses might be an effective tool to emphasize the point and strengthen the impact. Pausing after interim conclusions enhances its’ persuasiveness and gives some time for audience to grasp the idea.
Visuals are just a supplement
People tend to think that impressive visuals are the key to success, but the truth is, not necessary. Relying too much on slides drags audience’s attention to the screen leaving the speaker aside. The main visual is you.
Nowadays, when time management is a sensitive topic, testing audience’s patience with long presentations seems to be a bad idea. Respect the time of others and pay attention to time limits. Avoiding off-topic talks and being brief – that’s what every audience will value.
Practice does not kill spontaneity
Actually, it’s vice versa. The more you practice, the more confidence you gain and can behave more natural during presentation. Spontaneity is charming and highly appreciated. Nevertheless, it should be planned in advance.
No one was born a perfect speaker, but paying attention to these components and adding some effort into practice will gradually lead to success in faultless communication with audience.