Biggest Public Speaking Mistake: Focusing on What You Want to Say

The single biggest mistake a presenter can make is to focus on what he wants to say. I imagine that after reading the first sentence of this blog, you’re questioning my sanity.  But it’s with complete mental clarity that I assure you that whether you’re the keynote speaker at a major trade show, addressing your board of directors or pitching a prospective client, you will only be successful if you view that speaking opportunity as a conversation — not a one-way presentation. What you say is only part of the story…

Too often we lose sight of the individuals in our audience — the human beings with their own agendas, needs, interests, pains and passions.  When we focus on building a connection — human to human vs. presenter/expert to audience or vendor to prospect — we ensure that what we’re saying will be heard.  Always anticipate the ways in which what you say will make the individuals in your audience smarter, better, more successful or even happier. Don’t jam-pack your presentation with everything you want to tell them about you, what you’ve done and why you’re so smart.  Good conversationalists knows that you want the person with whom you’re having a conversation to feel important, valued and appreciated.  Think about the times you’ve had a conversation with someone who made you feel as if you were the most important person in the world and that they wouldn’t be anyone else than speaking with you.  That’s how you want to connect with your audience when you’re a public speaker.  Demonstrate to your audience that you value their time, attention and intellect!

So don’t make the mistake of spending all of your time focusing on what you want to say.  Instead, focus on your audience.  The rest will follow — including what you should say, how much to include and how you should convey it.

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