Improve public speaking: 7 Ways Speakers Sabotage Themselves Before Getting Up To Speak

Updated: Mar 1

Speakers looking to improve public speaking should focus on the habits holding them back. Sometimes speakers will sabotage their best efforts on stage before they speak. Whether it’s the manner in which they prepared their presentation or because they run out of time, avoid these 7 mistakes to prevent self-sabotage the next time you speak.

Improve public speaking by changing the following 7 habits:

1. Running on no sleep

Speakers often spend too much time on other work and “preparing” that they fail to get any meaningful amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to short-term memory loss and overall exhaustion—two things that will doom any presentation.

2. Reading through isn’t preparing

The “classic” way of preparing for a presentation is when a speaker sits down and just reads through his or presentation. Presentations are meant to be heard, not read, to the audience. Get up and practice delivering the presentation rather than just reading it silently to yourself.

3. Too many people with input

Presentations by committee almost never work. Everyone has an idea and opinion on everything from front size to colors to word choice. Endless meetings doom any type of cohesive presentation. The solution? Designate one presenter who makes all of the final decisions.

4. Leaving any amount of practice to the last minute

In the corporate world, people will tell you that they are “working on their presentation.” What this means is not that they are actively practicing and trying to create a great presentation. Rather, people are sitting at their computer typing endless bullet points into powerpoint slides. First, back off the text. Second, practice what you are going to say.

5. Confusing writing with speaking—not the same things

You can tell when a presentation was written to be heard or written to stay on the page. The latter happens far too often. A speech shouldn’t sound like someone is just reading from a manuscript.

6. Tackling a topic you know nothing about

Whether it’s wanting to please a boss or upper management, people take on speaking projects for topics they know nothing about. The result is a speech that barely scratches the surface of a topic or a jumbled mess of ideas because the speaker didn’t take the time to properly research their topic.

7. Thinking you have to be perfect in your presentation

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do a good job. But, no one in the audience knows your script. They don’t know everything about your presentation nor where each “and,” “the,” “but,” and, “or,” need to be. Allow yourself to be 90% great rather than demand 100%. You’ll free up your personal mental pressure and your more authentic self will shine through.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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