You were able to present like a pro at your first job but now it’s been years since you’ve last given speech. You should be okay, right? Not necessarily. Many folks assume that since they were able to give a good presentation back in the day that they’d still be able to deliver an engaging talk today. While that might be true for some people, most notably people that presented frequently for an extended period of time, not everyone is able to pick up where they left off – especially if it took a lot of work to overcome the discomfort.
One of the things I’ve been working on is pronouncing words correctly. I recently listened to an audio program to learn Italian (I hope to visit Italy in the near future) and was reminded of some of the common mispronunciations that people make. I was surprised at the way the narrator mispronounced numbers in English. Here are some of the ways she mispronounced numbers:
- Twenty was mispronounced “Twen-y.” – Missing “T.”
- Seventy was mispronounced “Seven-dy” – “T” to “D.”
- Ninety was mispronounced “Nine-dy” – “T” to “D.”
It seems like every business expert that also has speaking experience likes to throw in a line about joining Toastmasters International to become a better speaker. Some of these people joined a club and it helped them become better speakers while others simply regurgitate this advice from other sources. Although Toastmasters has worked for a lot of folks (myself included), simply joining won’t necessarily make you a better speaker.
Public speaking is one of those topics where people tend to believe advice they hear about it. This is primarily because most people associate some sort of discomfort (which can range from a minor dislike to a true phobia) with public speaking. And when we don’t understand something or lack expertise in a certain area, we tend to believe what we hear from people we perceive as experts.
In my prior article on PowerPoint mistakes to avoid, I covered three common mistakes that I see over and over again with presentations that use overheads. Of course, there’s plenty more mistakes that novice (and yes, even experienced) presenters make when they use this medium for presentations and we’ll get to more of them in future articles. For now, here are three more PowerPoint mistakes that you should try to avoid.
1: Using text that is too small.
It’s every speaker’s nightmare: you’re delivering a speech and someone (or more than one person) gets up and walks out. Did you do something wrong or say the wrong thing? It’s possible that you did something to caused the person to get up and walk out (and you’ll most likely know what you did right away), but in many cases, the reason for someone walking out has nothing to do with the speaker or the presentation itself.
Whenever you give a speech, people will inevitably give you feedback regardless of whether you’ve asked for it or not. Sometimes the feedback will be something you can actually put to use to improve your presentation. But frequently, it’s not helpful and in some instances can be harmful – especially if it gets you thinking about it (for one reason or another) to the point where it becomes a distraction.