In 2013 and I was nervously (really nervously) standing on stage in Honolulu waiting for the results of the POWERtalk International speech contest to be announced.  A couple of months earlier I was the winner of the Australian region and was extremely excited for the opportunity to represent my country in Hawaii.  Who wouldn’t be?

Drum roll…The compare announced I’d placed third.  Woo Hoo!  I was rapt.  Well for a couple of minutes anyway.  Much like the stuff-up in the Miss World contest in 2015 where the compere read the order of the placegetters incorrectly, I hadn’t actually won anything.

Can you imagine how disappointed I felt?

After I got over the initial feeling of horrible letdown, (a couple of hours later…well to tell the truth…days later) it got me thinking that there were probably many speakers out there who also weren’t achieving the results they wanted and expected when they were speaking from stage.

Maybe not in a contest situation but still knowing the disappointed feeling and they can’t figure what is going wrong.

After coaching speakers for a dozen or so years, I’ve discovered there are five mistakes that most up and coming speakers make.

1) Many speakers are so concerned about what they are going to say they forget that they only have a few seconds to build connection with their audience and if you muck that up, you can lose people from the get-go. Remember you do this with your presence, your delivery and the words you say.  It all counts equally.

2) Your audience wants to get to know you so don’t make the mistake of not including your story in your presentation. An anecdote is a terrific way to build connection. Your audience wants to know you are like them so tell your story…but be sure to make it relevant.

3) We all have a why. But many presenters miss the opportunity to share their why in their presentations. Your audience wants to know why you do what you do.  They want to know what is important you. In fact they will want to know whether they are important to you.  So share your why?

4) The most obvious mistake I see people make is they don’t have a plan or system to their presentation. Without a plan, you usually miss out on building connection with your audience, your purpose and through line isn’t developed effectively and there isn’t a sensible conclusion, thus missing the mark to get your audience on side with your ideas.

5) I can’t tell you the number of speakers I see who think they are doing well but because they never receive constructive feedback from mentors, they don’t have a chance to improve and hone their skills. Find a mentor you trust and ask for feedback.

Next time you have the opportunity to speak in front of an audience, check you have these points covered.

When you do, you won’t be left thinking what you could have you done differently when your presentation missed the mark. Or like me in that contest, you won’t be left stranded hoping the floor would swallow you up.

Keep speaking.


P.S.  If you are an up and coming speaker and interested in honing your skills, check out this One-day Professional Speaking workshop

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