Speaking Tips: 3 More world-class blunders


Ed note: I received some nice feedback on yesterday’s post about providing too much information, so I’ll go ahead and strike again while the iron is hot.

Blunder #1: Assume your audience lives just to hear you speak.

That’s right, no need for Audience Analysis, or worrying about what message will make a difference to them! Remember, the goal is to feel good about your presentation, even if the audience doesn’t get it. Bonus tip! Leave your audience with as many unanswered questions as time will allow. And top it off with a sales table full of unrelated content at the front of the room.

Conversely, understanding how Knowing your Audience will give them the best experience will pay off for those of you looking to succeed. Important: don’t assume that because they came to hear you speak means they understand the why’s and what for’s of your topic. Whatever topic you have expertise in could seem like rocket-science to your audience. One option: draft up an opening that would work to explain your topic to 5th graders. Remember, your audience members are smarter than a 5th grader, but not necessarily in your topic of choice. Avoid being condescending, but don’t gloss over the facts that connect the dots for your audience.

Blunder #2: The slides speak for themselves.

This is my favorite tactic to watch, and you know why? Because even when the slides can speak for themselves, the presenter won’t let them! That’s right, I have a grown person reading to me from the front of the room. Talk about money well spent!

It’s tough to understand how this begins, except as a crutch for new speakers. Here’s an alternative. Make the “speaks-for-themselves” slides and print them out for yourself. Next trim out all of the words your going to actually say, and “save as” that file to be your actual presentation slide show. Limit this to important points that need to be seen to be understood (i.e. lists, graphs, or pictures). Only use the slides in the parts of your presentation that need them, and use the ‘B’ button (blank the screen) the rest of the time.

Blunder #3: Humor is for the other guy.

There’s a time and place for humor, and your presentation is not that time or place, right? You added jokes about the two bartenders walking into a church, and failed miserably. Humor requires raw, natural talent and you have none, and couldn’t possibly learn…right? hmm. 

Humorless presentations sell…nothing. I’m not talking about product here, although that does apply. What I mean is, without humor you can’t expect to sell your ideas, vision, or calls to action. Humor needs to be a natural part of your presentation, not an added joke or two. The best source? Your life stories! That’s right, straight from your own experiences. Added bonus: your audience will not have heard them before.

Also, if you’re thinking that humor comes naturally…you’re wrong. The “naturally funny” people aren’t. Seriously. They simply learned the tips and techniques at an earlier age than you did (or will), that’s all. There are a plethora of resources out there to improve your humor quotient. In a later post, I’ll be sure to include some ideas about that.

Bonus Blunder: Deciding there is no room for improvement. 

Remember, if you like using these blunders (or techniques) in your daily presentations, keep it up! Less competition is a good thing for me. Right?

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