Being a public speaker can be tough especially when you are speaking in front of large crowds who are hanging on to every word that you are saying. On the reverse, as an audience member on the receiving end of the speech, watching a speech can be uncomfortable when the speaker has awkward body language. For example, the excessive use of “like” and “uh’s” or a nervous twitch can be distracting and take away from great content. As a public speaker, how you say what you say can be crucial to your success.
Suzannah Baum of the Huffington Post provided 3 top offenders and ways to avoid them:
Offense #1: Your Body
- Pay attention to your body language when giving a speech. Bad posture, crossing your legs, and pacing can be distracting your audience. Distracting your audience can and will take away from your message no matter how good it is.
- The fix: Stand up straight and move purposefully. Remove things from your pocket so that you don’t get the urge to tend to it therefore sabotaging your audience’s attention.
Offense #2: Your Mouth
- Be cognizant of filler words. Excessive use of words such as “like” and “uh” it can also be distracting. Too many filler words can come off as amateurish and are ultimately “crutch words”. Crutch words can alter your content and make it seem uneducated. Additionally, beware of the speed at which you are speaking as well. You don’t want your audience to have to play catch up or struggle with understanding what you’re saying. This can result in you losing your audience, once they’re lost, it’s nearly impossible to get them back.
- The fix: incorporate pauses into your speech. Also keep a bottle/glass of water around. Silence doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Breaks can allow your audience to digest what it is that you’re saying.
Offense #3: Your Heart
- “Speaking from the heart” can be one the biggest myths of authentic public speaking and can take away from your speaking power. People often don’t want to prepare because they want to “speak from the heart”. What ends up happening is that the speech can go on and on and pointless stories come into play, which come off more like tangents instead of informed speeches. That said, Baum says don’t automatically count out speaking from the heart. It will add an authentic feel to your speech. But you MUST know where you’re headed in your speech and what you’re delivering.
- The fix: Practice your talk so it can be delivered smoothly and come off confident. It won’t make you look overly rehearsed but instead you will be comfortable and come of knowledgeable. And if you want to speak from your heart, incorporate that into the speech in advanced so the flow is smoother.
These are some surefire ways to help with any public speaking engagements.