5 Common Mistakes Speakers Make

2 Minute Read | Prevent your keynote from sucking by avoiding these all-too-common oversights
By Jeff Jacobson

We’ve seen each of these errors adversely affect a speaker’s performance or a client’s opinion of a speaker and thought this article would be a helpful resource in avoiding these mistakes.

  1. Putting too much text on their slides. All we do all day is read stuff on our phones and computer screens. Your speech is supposed to be a break from that. If you make an audience read a lot during a presentation, they are going to tune out. A few slides are typically most effective for images or videos that augment your key messages.
  2. Not personalizing their remarks. This goes beyond knowing who the client is and what city the event is taking place in. Take the time to learn what the conference is all about, what the conference organizer is looking for the audience to leave with and work backward from there in terms of your content. In sum, learn the organizer’s endgame and help them get to that place through your talk.
  3. Not attending other parts of the conference. See my last point – it’s hard to really get a sense of what a conference is all about if you are there for a total of one hour. I realize that sometimes scheduling prevents this, but if you can, try and have a meal with the larger group – it will make your presentation better, I promise.
  4. Ignoring the sound man/AV person. Veterans of the music business say that the “sound guy” literally makes or breaks your show. Same with speeches, particularly if you have important visual or audio cues. Take the time to talk with them and soundcheck if need be, buy them a cup of coffee and ask them how their day is going. The goal is to get him or her on your side, ensuring a seamless presentation.
  5. Including offensive/irrelevant content. There is a fine line between teaching an audience something they don’t know and outright offending them. Carefully consider the audience makeup (bureaucrats, teachers, middle managers, salespeople, C-Suite) Don’t be too proud to remove some of your best content as a precaution.