As a professional motivational speaker for over 20 years, I have made every mistake in the book. So what I'd like to do is share with you the "dead give away" information that the presentation you are about to make is on the wrong track – AND what to do instead! And by the way – when I say "presentation" – I mean any time you have something important to say to any group of people, small or large.
- You think you'll just "wing it." Um. Don't do this. Even the best, most extemporaneous-sounding speakers in the world at LEAST have an outline, along with transitional thoughts from one idea to the next. Do your homework. Prepare yourself really well. Know WHAT you have to say, WHY it's important that people hear it and rehearse a lot. The LAST thing you want to be thinking about from the stage is what your next words are. Oh, and don't try to get around this one by reading your speech from your notes.
- You don't know WHO is in your audience. What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night? What is their world like? If people in your audience feel like you don't understand who they are – they won't like you a lot. And if they don't like you, well, they won't want to listen to you. When people whip out their smart phones – it won't be because they're tweeting your pearls.
- You forgot to ask yourself, "How will the people I'm speaking to benefit by what I'm going to say?" Even if your presentation is nothing more than a showcase for you and your offerings, give them something of value. Anything that will make them FEEL better or be able to DO something better. Maybe it will simply be a provocative question that gets them thinking about a better way to do something (coming back, again, to how THEY will benefit)
- You aren't using any humor. The reasoning I hear? "Because my information is very substantive." Big mistake. Huge. People who are laughing are tuned in and engaged. And when they are engaged they are better able to retain and apply the information later. It doesn't have to be "fall out of your chair" funny stuff – but, rather, well positioned humorous comments that people can relate to and will enjoy. I used the brilliantly funny David Glickman at FunnierSpeeches to help punch up one of my presentations in the past and it was BEYOND worth what I paid.
- You're worried that your presentation is going to suck. I know. Sounds strange, right? But for people who don't speak a lot, they put a picture in their minds of themselves failing, forgetting their words, stumbling around, panicking. And that picture is POWERFUL! Instead, put the picture in your mind of you doing great! Watch yourself walking onstage confident and relaxed. Hear your voice sounding steady, strong and powerful. Notice how your breathing is deep and full. See people laughing and enjoying your presentation. FEEL how great this feels!!! Put this picture in your mind every single morning and night right up until your presentation.
While there are other mistakes that would be worth mentioning, avoiding these will surely put you on the right track. Happy speaking!