Are You Making Any of These Five Common Delivery Mistakes?

December 18, 2015. Are You Making Any of These 5 Common Delivery Mistakes?

Mastering public speaking is a challenge for most people. One way to improve is to first focus on the ‘low-hanging fruit’—common delivery mistakes which can fairly easily be corrected if you are aware of them and focus on not repeating these mistakes.

Here are 5 common presentation delivery mistakes which you may have made yourself and/or watched other presenters making:

1. Preaching or Giving a Monologue
A common problem you see with some speakers is that they preach to their audience.  This will happen if the speaker only focuses on his or her own point of view, giving little or no thought to the situation of the audience—and verbally trying to impose such a view on the audience, just like a preacher would.  Doing so is a sure way to, at best, lose the interest of your audience at an early stage, and at worst, turn them against you.  A similar mistake is giving a monologue—forgetting that good speaking is a dialogue with the audience.

2. Moving without a Purpose
Some speakers move frequently and without a purpose. This will not only distract people—your audience will also not know what movements are important and meaningful. In some cases movements without purpose reflect nervousness on the part of the speaker, but must nevertheless be consciously resisted. Move with a purpose. When there is no reason to move—don’t!

3. Stepping on Thoughts and Laughter
There are times during your presentations or speeches where you will use humor to illustrate a point, engage the audience, and provide a break from more serious content. Hopefully the audience will laugh. When they laugh, do you stop and let them finish? Or do you rush ahead, stepping on their laughter? Let them laugh, let them laugh fully—then move on to your next thought.

Likewise, you should avoid stepping on the thoughts of your audience. If you say something important, make a powerful statement or express something intended to make your audience think—you need to stop and let them digest it. Too many speakers make the mistake of not allowing sufficient time for the audience to think and reflect in these situations.

So let your audience laugh, let them think.

4. Not Being Attuned to Your Audience
A common reason why speakers lose the attention of their audience is that they fail to attune their own energy level to that of the audience.  If you address a low-key, somewhat quiet audience, with a high-energy, high-powered introduction, you are off to a bad start—and may lose them entirely from the outset. However, if the audience is energetic, come out with more energy.  The key is to attune yourself to the audience.

5. Reading Your Slides
Of all the common delivery mistakes, this may take the prize for most often committed offense. Did you ever experience a presentation where the speaker read all the text on the slides, more or less word by word?  Was that boring?!  Did you read the slide text faster than the speaker?  We have probably all committed this mistake ourselves, on more than one occasion…..  The reason why, is that speakers often use slides as much to help themselves as to help their audience.

Adapted from Craig Valentine, World Champion of Public Speaking and Founder of the World Class Speaking Method.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.