Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Introduction: What are the 7 Common Public Speaking Mistakes?
Public speaking is a skill that is important for professionals in many industries. It can be an opportunity to share your knowledge, connect with your audience and make a lasting impression. However, it can also be a nerve-wracking experience.
It is one of the most common fears people have and it affects a large percentage of the population. So, what are some common mistakes people make when giving a speech?
In this article, we will go over 7 public speaking mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Asking If The Microphone Is On
This list was not written in any particular order of importance, but when I decided to create an article on this topic, this mistake was one of the first that came to mind.
This is a VERY common mistake that people make when they are called up to stage; rather than get straight into their content/speech they tap the mic and ask if its on and if the audience can hear them.
99% of the time someone has used the microphone before so we know it works, if there is an AV team at the event they will of made sure everything is working.
I have found you are much better off getting into your content, if for any reason the mic isn’t working the audience will let you know, despite you assuming the audience will point and laugh, the reality is they wont think much of it, if anything they will be on your side.
2. Not Managing Energy Levels When You Start
One of the most common mistakes people make when they start public speaking is not managing their energy levels.
When you walk on stage, or in front of the group you have only a few seconds to capture their attention, failure to engage the audiences focus will have them tune out and head straight for their - oh so interesting - phones.
Look enthusiastic, make eye contact and smile as you walk out.
3. Using Overly Complicated Slides
Powerpoint slides are a great way to convey information.
However, too much detail/information on a slide can make it difficult for the audience to process the information.
If the audience have to squint, spend time reading or feel like they are trying to translate another language your slides are not doing the job intended.
As much as possible aim to only include key points and make your slides visual, this allows for a clear message and the audience will be able to follow along with you.
4. Reading The Slides Verbatim
I am sure you have had to sit through a presenter in the past who has done this and I am willing to bet something felt off as you had to sit through it.
Reading directly from the slides is a big ‘No No’ we read stories to kids to send them to sleep, please don't do that to your audience.
As mentioned in the previous point, slides should contain key points and be visual.
5. Speaking To Quickly
More often than not you will feel a certain amount of nerves before getting up to speak or present, this nervous energy can often cause us to speak quickly, which not only makes us sound nervous, it can make us feel more nervous.
The remedy is to remember to breathe and be aware of your speech rate.
6. Speaking While Looking Down
If you have prepared your presentation or speech on paper, avoid the mistake of standing at the lectern with your head down reading.
Not only will this make you sound uninteresting (see next point), by looking down you are not connecting with the audience.
Instead focus on connecting your words with the audience, make eye contact, smile and talk to the audience NOT down to a piece of paper.
7. Speaking With A Monotone Voice
Even though we are moving further and further into a world of AI it’s important that we stay human and don’t start to sound like a world of robots.
In order for us to connect our message we need to add emotion to what we are saying and a big part of this is achieved by the way we say our words.
The way I like to say this is we need to ‘BE’ the words that we are saying.
Public speaking is a challenging tasks for many people. They fear the audience and feel anxious about their speech. This can be due to a number of factors, such as lack of confidence, lack of knowledge on the topic, or stage fright.
In this article I have outlined just a few of the common public speaking mistakes that I see.
A common theme that runs through all of the mistakes I have mentioned is….
When you are delivering a presentation or speech it is the experience for your audience that matters.
If you found this article interesting you should check out the FREE ‘Building Rapport Mini Training’ I have created for you.
Also, check out another recent article I published on overcoming the fear of public speaking you can view it here