Golden Keyes Parsons sending greetings from a frigid Central Texas winter day. We moved from the mountains to get away from the cold! Nevertheless, I'm warm and cozy by the fire, ready to share more tips about speaking. When we prepare our message or talk for a group, we anticipate they will listen with rapt attention to every word. The truth is …
people actually hear only a small percentage of what we say. Therefore, as speakers, we need to make sure we craft our speech so it is easier for the listener to really hear what we want to convey. Here are 5 common pitfalls speakers encounter.
1. A weak opening. I addressed this in a previous post, but it bears repeating. Something must catch the attention of the listener from the beginning. You have two minutes to win your audience — a funny story, a provocative question, a skit, a dynamic power point presentation. Many times I start a retreat or conference with silly icebreaker games. It gets the audience involved, and also gets them wondering, "Where is she going with this?"
2. Lack of preparation. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Get your outline, then flesh it out with your research. Read, read, read about your topic. Not to regurgitate all of it on your audience, but so you will have a reservoir of information that will lend an air of authenticity to your talk.
3. An unclear outline. Your outline should be strong and clear. Work on it until you memorize it and can go from point to point without becoming buried in your notes. And make it brief — 2-4 points.
4. Lengthy message. The average adult can concentrate only 25-30 minutes. Young people even a shorter length of time. Do yourself a favor and keep it short.
5. Lack of connection with audience. Find some way to connect with your audience. A story, a visual aid, a picture. Be sure to make eye contact. Make yourself available to them before, during and after the presentation.
Next time we'll talk about 5 more pitfalls speakers encounter. Until then, stay warm. Cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea and a good book and enjoy! Perhaps that good book might be … this little novella of mine one can read in an afternoon!
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