There are a few public speaking mistakes that surprisingly, a large number of people make but which affect their presentations. There are small and big mistakes that can make you appear unprofessional, lose your audience, and ruin your presentation. We’ve picked the nine worst public speaking crimes so you can work on them and make sure you’re not guilty of these offenses. Let’s dive in.
1. Reading from the Screen
This isn’t a read-along class. It’s not story time either when you read a chapter to your audience. Unfortunately, time and time again, presenters will start their presentation by reading from slides and then follow up with an explanation. Even worse, they will simply stick to the slide deck and read it word for word. Your audience isn’t children, so don’t treat them as such.
2. Chewing Gum on Stage
Maybe you like chewing gum because it relaxes you. Unfortunately, it’s something that audience members tend to find incredibly irritating and may even cause them to leave. When you’re sitting in an audience, seeing the person on stage chewing gum is annoying and unprofessional. If that’s your habit, stop this immediately.
3. Speaking in Jargon
Your presentation is not the time to show your intelligence and understanding of the field. The fact that you’re on stage proves that. So, avoid using jargon or technical terms that can lose or confuse your audience. Instead, share insights and information in a way that people can understand. Your audience wants to be inspired and motivated, not learn some new words. All you’ll do is confuse them and get them to tune out.
When you’re unprepared, that’s when you end up falling back on unprofessional words like “um, uh, er.” You have to do your presentation completely prepared for anything, so you don’t rely on words like that. Practice your speech a lot, and in different ways, so you don’t end up robotic and memorized. Practice your pauses as well and be comfortable with them. If you use certain words too much, your audience will get distracted and lose focus.
5. Speaking Too Fast or Slow
You’ll want to pay a lot of attention to how quickly or slowly you’re speaking. While you might not be thinking about the speed of your speech, your audience will certainly notice it. If you speak too quickly, they won’t be able to keep up and will tune out. On the other hand, if you speak too slowly, you might be putting your audience members to sleep. Instead, focus on your enunciation, and get a lot of practice in front of loved ones who can give you feedback. If you don’t want to do that, try recording yourself and listening back to improve.
6. No Core Message
When you don’t have a core message, or it’s not clear, that’s the easiest way to lose your audience. A big issue is when the speaker is too busy promoting himself or herself or just speaking about something that has nothing to do with the purpose of the presentation. The audience doesn’t want to know about the speaker; they want the message and to feel inspired. The audience will most likely know all about you if they’re attending your speech. All of your speech should be somehow connected to the message.
7. Going Too Long
You want to be sure to finish your presentation at the right time. Your audience probably has plans and places to be, so you want to make sure that you finish the presentation when it’s supposed to. Or else, they will start fidgeting and looking at their watches. Be sure to start on time always, and you should know how long each section of your speech should take. That way, you can always know how much time you have left for other sections. The more you prepare and rehearse, the more you can keep track of your time and whether you’re on pace.
8. Think About Clothes
First impressions matter, and it’s what your audience will remember. You will be observed and judged as soon as you get on stage from your body language to your clothes and confidence. Think a lot about what you’ll wear and make sure it’s comfortable, so you’re not constantly fidgeting with your clothes during your speech. The audience doesn’t want to be sidetracked from the message by your wardrobe malfunctions.
9. Leaving Your Phone On
The worst thing that could happen is for your phone to go off during your speech, or someone’s phone in the audience. Remember to put yours on silent before you start, and ask your audience members to do the same before your speech. Better yet, don’t even bring yours up with you.
Aimee Laurence, an editor for Academized.com and Essay Service, shares her thoughts on public speaking and presentation tips. She enjoys helping people become better public speakers, even people who are introverts and dislike standing on a stage. In her spare time, Aimee is a tutor for Essayroo Sydney.