What do the rambler, the swayer, the hipster, the speedster and the mike smoocher have in common? They didn’t hire a speaker coach!
Here are some of my favourite dos and don’ts.
1. The rambler
How about the speaker who thinks he is so gifted that he doesn’t need to follow the script or the slides and just rambles incoherently, way over the time allotment? Always have a script or an outline with the key messages that you want to deliver – this will help you stay on message and on time.
2. The “don’t look at my face speaker”
Is there anything more frustrating than staring at the back of a presenter who is so in love with his slides that he has forgotten that he has an audience to speak to? Always face and speak to your audience – your job is to deliver a message and connect with your audience.
3. The swayer, the podium hugger, the fidgeter, the coin jingler
These are personal pet peeves since these speakers don’t understand that body motion is either a distraction or an enhancer. It’s really not that tough to learn to use body language to enhance your words and your messaging – planting your feet, shoulder width apart, and feeling yourself rooted into the ground is a good start.
4. The boring fact giver is another meeting buster
Sure facts are important, but you’d better tell me the “so what” of your facts or I am going to stop listening. When you’re preparing your slides, always challenge yourself on why you included the information and what it means to the audience.
5. The hipster
Always gives me pause – the person who dresses inappropriately for a business presentation, trying to look cool and hip. You need to look the part – if you’re asking for money in an IPO, dress like an investment banker. You have one shot at pitching your business – why would you undermine your credibility by wearing a T shirt and jeans?
6. The speedster
Probably the most common presenter – the person who rushes to finish (it’s usually nerves that cause people to speed). Learn to speak with emphasis, with pauses, with the volume and speed that is going to help you best impart your message to your audience.
7. The “I don’t need to practice, I can read” speaker
I don’t care who you are, everyone needs to practice and practice out loud – the speakers who you most admire and think are the most articulate are usually the ones who have practiced. A lot. Practice to your dog, to a mirror, to a plant, but practice out loud – it will help you find your words, your pace and your breath.
8. The dry mouth speaker
Most people can’t imagine how nervous they will be when they get up to speak – a funny thing happens to the mouth – it becomes a desert: dry and unforgiving! I have worked with CEOs of major companies, and I can assure you, that most people get really nervous when they have to speak at a podium. So do yourself a favour and take a glass of water with you (no ice, and yes I mean in a glass) – and please put it somewhere where you can’t fling it off when you gesture for greater emphasis.
9. The microphone smoocher, the microphone grabber
Both speakers are really hard to understand since the noise and feedback from the mike makes their speaking unintelligible – once again, it comes back to preparation – get to the room early and have a test run so that the mike is properly positioned and you learn to stifle your impulse to grab the mike as you speak.
10. Finally, the “I will spend gobs on everything but a speaker coach”
If you’re willing to spend on a venue, on catering, on audio-visual equipment, on décor and so on, do yourself a favour and spend it on yourself – a speaker coach will make you look good and, most of all, will help you deliver your message.