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  • Writer's pictureShannon Malkin Daniels

How to NOT Suck at Public Speaking

It's not all about you

Being a public speaking guru, I get asked all the time, "What's the #1 tip you have for being a better public speaker?" This inevitably leads to a conversation about typical mistakes and ways to avoid them.

Want to be a kick ass public speaker? This post is for you! Today kicks off the first of a series of posts that share the most common mistakes speakers make and how to overcome them.

MISTAKE: Being "me" centric

By far the most common - and detrimental - mistake I come across when working with clients is being "me" centric, not audience centric. We've all been to THAT presentation, the one where you're counting the seconds while the speaker drones along like Charlie Brown's teacher, "Womp, womp, womp womp." Nobody likes that. When you develop a speech or presentation based on what YOU know and what YOU want to talk about, not taking into account your audience, that's what you sound like (sorry, the truth hurts). This leads to a disengaged and bored audience. It's important to remember you're speaking for an audience, not yourself.  

SOLUTION: Flip the Script - Find the Sweet Spot

Now think about the best presentation you've ever been to. Likely it felt like the speaker was talking directly to you. Like they just 'got' you. Or, even if you didn't agree with them, that they struck a chord in some way or peaked your interest. Whether you want to motivate, inspire, persuade, educate or entertain your audience, the best way to do that is to tailor your speech or presentation TO your audience. To do this, you need to know and understand your audience. Who are they? What do they care about? Why will they listen to you? Your job as a speaker is to engage your audience, pull them into the presentation, not talk at them. Instead of focusing only on what you know, care about and want, make sure to bring your audience into the mix. The intersection of these things - what you know about, what you care about and what your audience wants/needs/cares about - is where you'll find the sweet spot. Focus on that and you have a winning combination!

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