The most important quality for an event speaker is the ability to connect with your audience. Gone are the days when a speaker stood up and lectured for an hour. Now, they’re tasked with being dynamic thought leaders and discussion instigators. That can be a difficult task at times, with pitfalls and hazards aplenty. Here are some common mistakes novice event speakers make.
While you don’t want to just stick to a boring script every time you give a speech, going too far off the rails can be just as problematic. When you go off script, you risk forgetting key parts of your speech, or having important parts of your message lost in one of your tangents. You should have an outline and a guideline of where to go in your talk, and stick to it – otherwise, you may get off stage and realize you forgot one of your most important points.
Not everyone in your audience is an expert on your subject; otherwise, they wouldn’t need you to give the talk! Know your audience and try not to overuse specialized jargon and phrases that may not be immediately familiar to them. If they have to pause to try to remember what a specific acronym means or what a certain technical term refers to, they’ll be taken out of your speech – it’ll reduce their information retention. On a similar note, don’t overuse marketing terms like “synergy” or “paradigm” – it makes your speech sound phony and overproduced.
By “tech” we can mean something as simple as your microphone or something as large and complex as a product demonstration. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to know everything about the operation of every piece of equipment on the stage, but you should be prepared to take action when things inevitably go wrong. Whether that’s as simple as readjusting your microphone or restarting a PowerPoint presentation, or as complex as abandoning a technical demonstration and going to an old-fashioned piece of poster board and a pen, you should always be prepared for technical issues, with “Plan B”s in place to ensure your speech will work, even when your equipment doesn’t. Having to stand around while techs fix a problem is a speech killer.