You have to present important results at work soon? Or give a casual speech at your sister's wedding?
There are many occasions when it is important to convey a certain message in front of an audience. As authentically as possible, relaxed and self-confident. Preferably with the right pinch of humour. After all, that's how you get your audience right on your side... Right?
Unfortunately, the bitter truth is that a speech can turn into an embarrassing disaster faster than you'd like... Just a few little things that you haven't thought of, and the spontaneous speech interlude turns into a disaster. Of course, nobody wants that! Neither the speaker nor his audience.
We want to save you from being the laughing stock of your colleagues, friends or family at your next presentation, so in this post, we'll show you the mistakes you should definitely not make.
Please be careful not to follow in Uncle Erwin's footsteps on Grandma's last birthday. Man, that was awkward...
By the way: If you want to skip the "no-go's" and get straight to the "must-do's", simply download our free checklist "Perform confidently & present successfully". It will give you 9 ultimate tips on how to prepare, structure and present your next speech. This will make your next appearance a blast!
Please don't hand out acoustic sleeping pills to your audience at the beginning. If you don't surprise your audience in the first 10 seconds of your speech, you've lost them. They won't listen to you for the rest of your speech and they'll wander off.
Don't bombard your audience with too much input. Even your number-crazy boss can only remember two or three points at the end of your presentation. So leave out anything that doesn't support your core message or can lead to confusion. And don't forget to summarize the essence of your talk at the end.
If your presentation lacks exciting details, interesting quotes, funny pictures, quirky facts or the like, your audience's interest is immediately lost. If you only tell dry facts without integrating them into stories, you will have quickly lost your attention to Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook on the mobile phones of your audience.
You want to create trust and credibility? Then don't underestimate the importance of eye contact! If you do not consciously look your audience in the eye, they will not feel addressed. But be careful not to overdo it! If you fixate on a person for too long, they may feel oppressed.
Many of us don't like speaking in front of large groups. Please realize that trying to finish as quickly as possible is not a good solution. If you don't give space to what you're saying by pausing after important information or changes of thought, your audience won't remember much. The same goes for speaking too fast, by the way.
We could write an entire "No Go" book on this point. Let's limit ourselves to the most important ones:
below-the-belt manoeuvres create a negative effect on the audience. So please avoid at all costs!
Crossed legs lead to an unstable, crooked stance. This makes you look awkward and insecure.
Wandering around without a destination: Unless you're heading for a concrete destination like a flip chart, your wandering around seems like an awkward evasive maneuver.
Gesticulating too much is just as bad as the typical "rigor mortis". Moving is good and loosens up, but please not too extreme.
Hide and seek: Please do not use the lectern, your notes or your folded arms to hide from your audience. Even if this behavior gives you a sense of security, it comes across as insecurity to your audience.
For example, if you work with PowerPoint, please don't pack your slides too full! If your audience has to concentrate on your speech and reading a desert of text at the same time, you've already lost them.
Yawn! This all-too-frequently used closing phrase raises the suspicion that the speaker himself is aware that his words were actually an imposition. If you end your presentation with a substantive sentence, it will reverberate as the final thought in the minds of your audience. Isn't that much better?
Many speakers make the mistake of creating a handout that reproduces their presentation 1 to 1. This is nonsense! A handout should be self-explanatory, unlike your presentation. So for the handout, you'll probably still need to add a few elements.
No time is no excuse. A presentation that is not practiced will immediately be noticed negatively by the audience. If you don't at least take the time to talk through the beginning and end of your presentation out loud - and preferably in front of a test audience - you're giving away a lot of potential.
Your knees shake at the mere thought of giving a speech in front of more than 10 people? Sweaty palms and a racing pulse included? Don't drive yourself crazy. No one expects you to give a Martin Luther King speech the first time. And any person who wants to give creative speeches and present excitingly can learn the skills to do so. Promise!
This point does NOT mean that you should not take your presentation seriously. BUT: If you do make a mistake, get lost or have a blackout - don't see it as the end of the world! Take a deep breath, laugh at yourself and move on.
In this article, we have presented a total of 12 presentation no-gos that you should avoid at all costs during your next speech. If you apply these tips conscientiously, you will be spared embarrassing moments in the future. We promise!
Which tip helped you the most? What was new to you? And did you perhaps even catch yourself with some of the no-gos?
Feel free to share your opinion with us in the comments. We are also very happy about further suggestions.
If you're about to give a presentation at school, university or work... Or if you're about to give a speech at a family party, you can download our free checklist "Presenting confidently & successfully" here.