The Biggest Mistake People Make When Preparing for a Public Speaking

Written by Payal

April 11, 2023

Payal holding her first place public speaking trophy in front of an auditorium.

Are you already shaking at the thought? It’s natural to feel nervous before taking the stage or having all eyes on you in a meeting – to me, that feeling shows you care! However, the biggest mistake or assumption people make when preparing for a public speaking event is thinking that their content alone will carry the day. While content is important (please limit the words on slides people!), it’s not the only factor that contributes to a successful presentation. Here are some reasons why.

Failing to understand the audience

One of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing for a public speaking event is failing to understand their audience. A speaker may spend hours crafting a perfect presentation, but if they don’t know who their audience is, their message may not resonate with them. Understanding the audience’s needs, interests, and preferences is crucial to crafting a presentation that will capture their attention and keep them engaged. If you are not sure exactly who will be in your audience, craft your message to your ideal audience member – don’t try to fit every different type of person!

Neglecting delivery

Another common mistake people make is neglecting delivery. A great presentation can be ruined by poor delivery, such as speaking too fast, mumbling, or failing to make eye contact with the audience. Delivery is just as important as content, and speakers should spend time practicing their delivery to ensure that they’re communicating their message effectively. This also includes having a back up plan in case technology fails!

Over-reliance on notes or slides

Some speakers make the mistake of relying too heavily on notes or slides to guide their presentation. While notes can be helpful for keeping the speaker on track, they can also be a crutch that distracts from the speaker’s message. Similarly, over-reliance on slides can lead to a boring presentation that fails to engage the audience. Instead, speakers should focus on engaging with their audience and delivering their message in a way that feels natural and authentic.

Failing to practice

Practice is essential for delivering a successful presentation, yet many speakers fail to practice enough. Practicing allows speakers to refine their delivery, fine-tune their content, and get comfortable with their material. Without practice, speakers may stumble over their words, lose their train of thought, or forget key points, which can derail their presentation. I recommend first practicing out loud and next in front of a willing audience member or coach.

Not addressing nerves

Finally, speakers often make the assumption that nerves will simply disappear once they start speaking. Ignoring nerves can make them worse, leading to shaky hands, a racing heart, or sweaty palms. Your audience might get distracted by your message seeing this! Instead, speakers should acknowledge their nerves and take steps to address them, such as practicing relaxation techniques, deep breathing, or visualization.

By taking these factors into account when preparing for a public speaking event, speakers can ensure that they deliver a compelling and effective presentation that resonates with their audience.

If you’ve been limited in your public speaking at work and want some help – reach out! I’m here for it.

If you’re here, and you’re considering how I might be able to support you, why not schedule a call with me? It’s free. There’s absolutely no pressure to buy anything – it’s just two people having a chat and seeing where it could go from there.


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