Public Speaking Advice: Avoid These 10 Bad Practices

There’s no denying that public speaking is no easy task. Standing and speaking in front of others is a shared fear for many. However, there reliable do’s and don’ts that can raise your success rate and make you feel more at ease. Avoid these 10 things when public speaking:

1.Failing to be Relatable

Audiences connect with speakers with whom they identify. Use language that is understandable and give examples that speak directly to your listeners. Tailor your message to your crowd and prove you are cognizant of who you are talking to.

2. Failing to Engage Your Audience

Audiences are more likely to appreciate the message when they feel involved in the discussion. Make sure to ask for audience participation and engage your listeners by utilizing your space on the stage. You can also walk through the crowd if you have the space to do so.

3. Failing to Pace Yourself

Make sure you don’t speak too quickly. It’s human nature to speed up when completing a stressful task, but doing so will only make you more difficult to understand. Slow down, take deep breaths and enjoy your time on stage. 

4. Failing to Smile/Relax

As nerve-wracking as public speaking can be, remember to relax. Make sure to smile and be friendly and warm. Sometimes when speakers are tense, their facial expressions come off as cold or angry. To avoid this, remain mindful and consciously make an effort to appear personable.

5. Failing to Stay on Topic

Your audience came to hear you speak about a specific topic. While it is ok to live in the moment and deviate from your script, don’t get sidetracked to the point of abandoning your message. If you need bulleted notes or index notes to remind you of important points, bring them along to help you stay on topic.

6. Failing to Study Other Orators

Learn from the greats. Watch videos of your favorite orators and make notes of what makes them enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to conduct an honest comparison to find opportunities for improvement in your own speeches. After you’ve identified the differences, apply what you’ve learned. 

7. Failing to Be Confident

Exude confidence to show you know what you’re talking about, you believe in what you’re saying and you are confident that you belong. Speak with authority, stand tall and show strong stage presence.  

8. Failing to Make Eye Contact  

Eye contact makes people feel seen. It also helps convey that you are being upfront and honest. Practice looking people in the eye and holding their gaze for a few seconds. This will help your audience feel their presence and attention is important to you.

9. Failing to Look Your Best

Human nature dictates that appearance matters. Be presentable. Come with clean, ironed clothes that don’t distract from your message. Make sure your accessories and personal style don’t speak more loudly than the words you have to say. Lastly, plan ahead to ensure your appearance and your speech work together to help you put your best foot forward.

10. Failing to Do Your Homework

Being an amazing speaker requires more than simply showing up and standing at the podium. You must do your homework. Study your notes in advance and memorize as much as you can. Arrive early, have all necessary materials ready, and do a sound/tech check before your scheduled event. Because things don’t always do as planned, come with a backup plan at the ready.

With a little practice and a lot of planning, you can master the art of public speaking. Believe in your abilities and your message and approach your speech with confidence. Keep these ten tips in mind and you’ll be headed toward success in no time!

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