To save you from potential grief or underperforming when it’s your turn to speak in front of a group this month and in the New Year, my holiday gift over the next few weeks is to help you avoid the five most common mistakes that I’ve seen leaders make over and over again.    

A woman sitting at a table with papers and a laptop.What is number one on the list? It’s a trio that includes the failure to plan well, to establish a clear purpose and to sufficiently practice their presentation.  (Find out how to overcome all five avoidable mistakes in our next free webinar Dec. 10. Click here for details.)

As soon as you know you’re expected to make a speech or give a presentation, increase the odds of success by creating your plan in these three phases:

  • Pre-Presentation.  Put yourself on firm ground from the beginning by asking and getting answers to these questions as quickly as possible: Who will be attending? What are they expecting? What kind of audiovisual equipment is available or do you need to bring your own? Where will the message be delivered? When is it scheduled, start and end times? Why is this message important? How many do you anticipate will be present? How much question and answer time, and how much interaction with the audience is customary? Is it okay to bring handouts and other materials?  What is the usual attire?
  • Define your purpose as completely as you can. Is it to motivate others to a certain action? Which one? To persuade people to buy your product, service or idea? Are you fundraising or trying to get volunteer support? Want people to change habits? A vague purpose usually means a poor response at the end. In this phase it’s also vital to commit to extensive practice of your message aloud, and ideally out of order, so you can easily identify what’s working and what you need to tweak. I recommend at least nine full-fledged rehearsals as a minimum.
  • Day of the Presentation. Arrive at least an hour early to check out the microphone, room layout, lighting, projector, and any otherA woman sitting at a table with papers and a laptop.technology to be sure it’s working properly. Eat a little something in advance so your stomach doesn’t grumble and you don’t have an energy drop. Bring an extra copy of your notes and an extra thumb drive just in case you need them. Provide a door prize to collect business cards or some other strategy if you want to be able to follow up with the attendees. Invite them to follow you on Facebook or tweet about your presentation.
  • After the Presentation. Have a follow-up program ready to kick into gear that will help you accomplish your purpose. It could be an evaluation form, sending an email everyone who attends, telephone calls or even a survey request. Try to get honest feedback on how your message was received and what you might do better next time.

For more ways to escape from the clutches of future speaking mistakes and increase your peace of mind, I invite you to join our next free webinar on Dec. 10, 12 noon, or 7:30 pm. Click here for information and to register.