7 of the worst pieces of public speaking advice.
- Apologize for anything – last-minute speaker and not quite prepared, late. This takes away from your credibility and puts the attention on something that is other than what you want to talk about. Plus, nobody cares! That is information that is all about you or all about you trying to look good.
- Start with a joke. You know the one about…? Well, they do know that joke and it wasn’t very funny the first time. If they’ve heard it, they’ll probably think it’s lame that you shared it. If they haven’t heard it, you have no idea what they think of it and now it’s setting the tone for the rest of your talk.
- Picture your audience naked. I don’t know what you think, but I think that most people don’t look that good naked. The last thing I want to be thinking about is what that guy with the beer belly in the front row looks like naked! I have something more important to think about and deliver to my audience.
- Tell the audience how you feel – you’re nervous, hung-over, buzzed, up all night with the kids, sick. Again, this is all about you. Nobody cares about any of this, either. They came to get something and your job is to give it to them.
- Don’t look any of them in the eyes – scan the tops of their heads, scan the back of the room, look at their foreheads, between their eyebrows. Really? People know when you’re not looking at them. They will not respect you or give you their full attention if you don’t give them yours. Take a deep breath and risk making eye contact.
- Acknowledge the host, audience, sponsors, etc. before getting into your talk. This goes along with saying anything at the beginning of your talk time that has nothing to do with what you are about to share with your audience. Resist the temptation to do it and get right to it!
- Wing it if you don’t like to prepare. No. In case that wasn’t clear – NO. Do not wing it. People can tell. I understand not liking to prepare. I don’t like it, either. But, I do it for my audience. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a nervous speaker, preparing fully goes a very long way toward helping you to deal with nerves!