3 Common Ways Speakers Sabotage Themselves
This event is over now, but you can send your questions anytime.
Moses Cherrington asks:
Is there a most common problem associated with public speaking, according to your point of view and experience in public speaking?
There is, sadly, an abundance of common problems which afflict speakers. In this article, we’ll focus on three of the worst which sabotage many speakers.
Problem #1: Lack of Purpose
I frequently have people ask me to review their presentation slides. Naturally, they want to open PowerPoint first, and dive into showing me their slide deck. However, I’ll ask them: “Before we dive in, what’s your message?”
When they respond “What do you mean?” (and they often do), I know we’ve got a problem much larger than poorly designed slides.
Reviewing your slides without having clarity on your core message is like critiquing your bombing technique without knowing why you are at war.
And this problem — failure to have clarity on your core message — is not confined to those who speak with slides. It’s very common among all speakers. If you don’t have clarity on your message, your audience won’t either.
Problem #2: Lack of Passion
The opportunity to speak to an audience is a wonderful gift. Sometimes getting one person to listen is challenging, so having a full room of listeners is a blessing. But this blessing is completely wasted if the speaker has no passion.
In The Secret of Choosing Successful Speech Topics, we learned that to be successful, you must love your topic, and be passionate about sharing your knowledge.
When you speak without passion, your delivery is guaranteed to be flat. Your energy level, your eyes, and your expressions will all show your own lack of interest. Conversely, possessing great passion for your topic can mask many delivery flaws.
Problem #3: Lack of Preparation
The third common problem with many speakers is a lack of preparation.
I once spoke with a new employee about to give his first corporate presentation: a 30-minute project summary to the department. I asked him how much preparation he had done, and he responded that he “had spent all evening on it.” I reminded him that 25 people were going to be there, all of whom have busy schedules (not to mention salaries higher than his), and they were expecting a useful presentation.
He bombed the presentation. Half the audience walked out half-way through. The others survived long enough to enjoy the cookies and cake being served.
When a speaker fails to prepare adequately:
- Audience analysis is done hastily, or (probably) not at all.
- Research is minimal, and the content is just whatever was easily obtainable.
- Slides, if any, will be thrown together sloppily, and will probably be all text bullets.
- Little editing is performed, meaning the structure is murky and vague.
- The presentation will not be rehearsed, usually leading to haphazard delivery and poor time management.
Ultimately, failing to prepare represents a huge missed opportunity. Not only will the audience not be persuaded by the presentation, but they’ll probably be insulted that their time has been wasted.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Public Speaking
For seven more tragic problems, check out the highly popular 7 Deadly Sins of Public Speaking article featured on Six Minutes a couple years ago.
Your Turn… What’s Your Opinion?
What are the most common problems afflicting public speakers in your opinion?
Please share your thoughts in the comments.