Tag Archives: mistakes

Quick tip: Stop dwelling on mistakes

Stop dwelling on your occasional misstep and focus instead on your success as a speaker. Photocopy your certificates of achievement, copies of positive evaluations from previous speeches and testimonials from clients and friends. Pull together everything that makes you feel good about yourself as a speaker. Use that material to create a book of your speaking successes, and refer to it when you need inspiration before you take the stage.

—Adapted from “How to Write and Deliver an Outstanding Speech,” www.speakingandmarketingtips.com.

Avoid sounding too excited

Don’t allow your enthusiasm for a subject to undermine your authority when you speak about it. You will be more persuasive when you avoid these faults:

  • Speaking too fast. Listeners don’t trust people who talk exceptionally fast. Speak at a moderate pace to hold your listeners’ attention.
  • Being too animated. Hand gestures and inflection are important to convey your enthusiasm. However, if you look like you are trying too hard to make an impression, that will distract from your message.
  • Not taking a break. It’s easy to become caught up in offering an explanation and forget to stop for air. People are more receptive to speakers who pause naturally for breath and approach their presentations as conversations.

— Adapted from “Pause & Pitch: The Surprising Keys to Persuasive Speaking,” Rebecca Mazin, http://www.allbusiness.com.

Conquer self-doubt

Nervous

If you still are plagued by fear of public speaking, re-examine your beliefs and rid yourself of the following anxiety-inducing misconceptions:

  • “I have to be perfect.” No speech is flawless. Replace unrealistic expectations with a firm commitment to doing the best you can.
  • “I will look foolish if I make a mistake.” Don’t forget: Your purpose in speaking is to give your audience something of value, such as information, motivation or inspiration. If you concentrate on meeting your listeners’ needs and focus less on yourself, you will be more effective.
  • “I am not good enough.” Stop serving as your own worst critic; that leads you to project a critical attitude onto your audience, and you will act as if your listeners are criticizing your presentation or expecting you to fail. Expect that they want you to succeed, because they do.

— Adapted from “Help for a Shaky Voice,” Susan Berkley, The Voice Coach Newsletter, www.greatvoice.com.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa

3 bad habits that distract audiences

public speaking distractions to avoidDon’t allow your motions to detract from your message. Public speaking expert Alex Rister warns against these three common mistakes:

  1. The Rocker sways side to side or front to back. Move with purpose around the podium or through the audience to connect with people.
  2. Happy Pockets fiddles with change, keys or other objects. Empty your pockets before you speak.
  3. Lady Macbeth wrings her hands together. Videotape yourself speaking, and check whether your hand gestures are emphasizing key points or betraying you by revealing that you are nervous.

 Check out Alex’s blog Creating Communication  to read other great posts!

Tone it down to reveal your expertise

Don’t allow your enthusiasm for a subject to undermine your authority when you speak about it. You will be more persuasive when you avoid these faults:

  • Speaking too fast. Listeners don’t trust people who talk exceptionally fast. Speak at a moderate pace to hold your listeners’ attention.
  • Being too animated. Hand gestures and inflection are important to convey your enthusiasm. However, if you look like you are trying too hard to make an impression, that will distract from your message.
  • Not taking a break. It’s easy to become caught up in offering an explanation and forget to stop for air. People are more receptive to speakers who pause naturally for breath and approach their      presentations as conversations.

— Adapted from “Pause & Pitch: The Surprising Keys to Persuasive Speaking,” Rebecca Mazin, http://www.allbusiness.com.

(Mis)quoting Neil Armstrong

Watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon is one of my earliest memories, although what I remember most is that our family was gathered around my sister’s hospital bed in our family room, where she was in nearly a full body cast.

Later I attended a middle school named after the famous astronaut, complete with a small planetarium that was seldom used. I remember attending a program by NASA at that school.

Yet it wasn’t until three years ago that I learned there is a debate over one of the most famous quotes: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” According to Armstrong, he said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Several articles about Armstrong’s death last week mention the debate about the quote, and it’s discussed at length on Snopes.com.

Before you quote someone in your presentation, take these precautions:

  • Provide the context. During this political year there are plenty of examples of quotes taken out of context. When your audience recognizes that you have done that to make a point, you undermine your argument and destroy your credibility.

As you write a speech, pay as much attention to correctly quoting others as you do to writing your own words.

What mistakes with quotations have you seen in presentations?

PowerPoint presentation techniques: 25 sins you must avoid

PowerPoint presentation techniques

PowerPoint has gotten a bad rap not because it’s a bad tool in and of itself, but because so many people misuse it. Here at American Speaker, we encourage people to use PowerPoint properly. This month, we shared PowerPoint presentation techniques for improving your slides in the free Focus On section on AmericanSpeaker.com and for including visuals in the free American Speaker Forum e-letter (sign up to receive ASF today if you haven’t already). Plus, some of our most popular public speaking audio conferences are about using PowerPoint correctly: “Avoiding the PowerPoint Coma” and “Why Most PowerPoint Presentation Stink … And How to Sure Yours Don’t.” Long story short, we love PowerPoint when it’s used well.

But we loathe these PowerPoint sins that give the tool a bad name:

  1. Presenters who read their slides verbatim.
  1. Text-only presentations.
  1. Slides with full paragraphs.
  1. Slides packed with bullet point after bullet point after bullet point.
  1. Distracting animations.
  1. Too-slow slide transitions.
  1. Gimmicky sound effects.
  1. Too-small fonts.
  1. EVERYTHING IN CAPS.
  1. Cheesy fonts (like Comic Sans or Papyrus).
  1. Text in difficult-to-read colors.
  1. Jarring colors.
  1. Impossible-to-decipher graphs and charts.
  1. Inappropriate design themes (like background butterflies or snowflakes for a work-related presentation).
  1. Infantile graphics for adult audiences (like cartoon clipart).
  1. Lots of images crammed on one slide.
  1. Inconsistent formatting for titles, text, bullet points, borders, etc.
  1. “Franken-presentations” that include slides from multiple sources—and thus, lots of inconsistencies.
  1. Jargon and other unnecessarily confusing vocabulary.
  1. Presenters who race through slides.
  1. Obnoxious formatting of text (like words that are bold, italicized and underlined).
  1. Non-functioning audio or video.
  1. Unattributed pictures or quotes.
  1. A general lack of proofreading or editing.
  1. No “Plan B” in case technology fails.

Which PowerPoint presentation technique sins do you find most irritating?

[Image Source: Paul Hudson]