3 Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes to Avoid

I am not a big believer in following rules in public speaking. You know we've all heard them: do this, say that, walk this way, don't go that way. I just don't think they're that critical.

Instead, I want to share with you the three biggest mistakes that will kill your presentation every time you're on stage or on video.

Of course I've made them, just like everybody else has. But if you get these three mistakes under control, you will be a much better public speaker. 

If you prefer audio only, you can listen to the full episode on my podcast below or on iTunes.

Mistake #1: Focusing on the wrong things.

Have you ever entertained these thoughts about your audience: what do they think of me? What if they think I'm a fraud? What if they think I don't know my stuff? What if they don't like me?

These thoughts seem very harmless, after all, they're just in your head. But while you're spending your mental energy focusing on all of those questions, you are not focused on your audience.

And by being focused on your audience, I don't mean you spend your time thinking about how scared you are of your audience. Focusing on your audience means that the only thing in your head, the only thing you're thinking about, is how you are making them feel.

Because only when you take the focus off of you, and your confidence issues, and your mindset blocks, and everything else that you have in your head and shift it to your audience, only then are you becoming a great speaker.

I have a whole video on this mindset shift, and 

Mistake #2: Not being your authentic self.

It is so tempting to mimic somebody you admire, but the audience can spot a fake right away. Remember a time you were in the audience, couldn't you see when somebody was too rehearsed, too slick, and too perfect?

Don't sacrifice being yourself for perfection. Perfection is bland and boring. The audience wants to see the real you, and being genuine will always out-perform being perfect.

Mistake #3: Not preparing/rehearsing before you presentation.

As an introvert, preparing and thinking things through really come naturally to me. If anything, I like to prepare a little too much at the expense of pushing the ideas into the world sooner.

Now, a lot of people like to wing it and truthfully, preparation is boring, right? At some point you decide, “I'll just stop, I'm done. I'll just go and do it.” But I really, really want to encourage you to at least do few key things.

You definitely want to have your outline prepared and completed. You want to know all the key points you're going to cover. Particularly, if you're going without the crutch of slides. If you are doing a TED style talk, you need to have all of those key points memorized and in your mind.

Another thing that's very, very important and I definitely encourage you to do, is to specifically focus on the first few minutes of your presentation. Maybe even memorize it.

Because when you just walk on stage is when you're the most nervous and that's when mistakes happen. You want to memorize your opening so that you can just glide through it and be done with it, and then you can continue going with the talking points in your head. But focus on your opening and on the first few minutes of your presentation so you can be sure they’ll go smoothly.

You also want to prepare the closing of your presentation, because this is the last thing your audience remembers.

Everybody has their own favorite method for preparing. Some people like to sit at their desk and prepare that way. Some people like to go on walks and think through their presentation in their head.

I spend a lot of time in the car driving, so I love thinking through my presentation in the car. I literally visualize everything. I don't just visualize how I'm delivering my lines, and what I'm saying, I'm also visualizing reactions from the audience. And that really, really helps.

So, don't skip preparation. Find a way that works for you be it on a walk, in the car, in the shower, or even while you're watching T.V. You are spending some time going through your presentation in your head.

There you have it. Let me go over the three mistakes one more time.

Mistake #1: Focusing on the wrong things.

Mistake #2: Not being your authentic self.

Mistake #3: Not preparing/rehearsing before your presentation.

I hope you found this discussion useful. I wish you all the best!

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