Rookie Moves: How those new to public speaking can easily avoid common mistakes

You’ve undoubtedly been treated to a story from a friend, at some point, that simply had no point. There was a lot of talking as part of this rant but in the end, you took absolutely nothing away from it.

Now imagine take that same friendly banter and turning it into a work environment, charity event or anything else that centers on public speaking.

Chances are if you are the person who delivered that speech that failed, you won’t be asked back for a variety of reasons. Maybe it goes beyond just that fear of public speaking. Maybe, just maybe, you fell victim to one of several public speaking pratfalls that plague the general public every time they step in front of a crowd.

For starters, one of the more common missteps is the one that will lead your efforts astray rather quickly, and is particularly disheartening: you don’t know your audience. The disheartening part starts with the speech itself, and has nothing to do with not having a superb one prepared and ready to go. That’s the hard part in that you have spent time and crafted, for all intent and purposes, a great public speaking effort, but the topic, your notes, the content and even the delivery just isn’t tailored to the audience properly.

Not knowing your audience can doom even the most well written speeches or presentations. If the audience is your peers, take note of that and, for example, allow yourself to use jargon or insider, industry terms. If you’re giving this information to someone who isn’t in your business or if it is a sales call, make sure you use vocabulary that isn’t littered with vernacular that they don’t understand. A sales pitch for instance should be what you can do for them, how are you going to make them money or drive business for them. If you aren’t telling the right story, they will undoubtedly stop listening.

The other element that is overlooked and rather common is not giving yourself an opportunity to run through the speech a few times before you deliver it to the actual intended audience. Whether you speak in front of the mirror in your bedroom or just walk about the house and go over your opening and close (those should be memorized and not read), that speech should be engrained in you as you take the podium for the real thing.

Public speaking already is nerve racking but if you let it snowball beyond nerves and forget some of the more recommended tactics to take that speech and make it great.