6 Common Public Speaking Errors and How to Avoid Them

Public Speaking Errors

If the thought of public speaking fills you with dread, you are not alone. In fact, a full 75% of us fear public speaking more than anything else, including death.

Despite this intense and pervasive fear, the benefits of public speaking far outweigh those fears. Speaking at business events can build your confidence, advance your career, and unlock more opportunities than you thought possible.

The key to overcoming your fear is to avoid the common public speaking errors that cause people to stumble. Read on to find out what these are, and how to avoid them. 

1. Not Preparing

This might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. According to these expert presentation tips, not preparing for speeches is the number one most common and fatal mistake you can make.

Preparing means knowing your key messages for speeches, knowing your audience, knowing your facts, and, of course, practiving. 

2. Not Practicing

Practicing public speaking is the only way to get better. If you’re super nervous about public speaking, it’s probably because you have avoided opportunities to do so. Your first task should be to rehearse your speech, ideally with your coworkers, partner, or friends.

This will make you more comfortable with the material and help you identify any stumbling blocks. If you can, jump at any opportunity to do some low-stakes public speaking before the big event. This will help immeasurably. 

3. Sticking to the Script

You need to be on top of your brief, but reading verbatim from the script is a serious mistake. You should know the main points you need to make, but never stand there and read directly from your slides.

Reading your script will make for some very boring and uninspiring public speaking, and you will lose your audience. Being present is key, 

4. Avoiding Eye Contact

Even if you’re speaking to an audience of 500 people, try and make eye contact. If you refuse to engage with your audience directly, they will refuse to engage with you.

Making eye contact will keep you in control and help your speech feel more like a conversation, in which both you and the audience have a role to play. 

5. Not Using Pauses

You might think that long pauses are unprofessional, but this could not be further from the truth. Mastering public speaking means thinking before you speak.

Don’t be afraid to stop and take a few seconds to form a sentence in your head before speaking it. Otherwise, you run the risk of babbling and running into a stream of consciousness that will not have the impact you are aiming for. 

5. Awkward Body Language

Your words matter, but so does your body. Try not to stand perfectly still, as this will make you come off as robotic or uncomfortable. At the same time, don’t go crazy with the gestures.

Try and remain relaxed and move confidently around your stage. Use your body in a way that engage directly with your audience, as if they are a participant in a conversation. 

6. Apologizing Or Questioning

You should never apologize for taking up space, especially at a talk or event where people have voluntarily chose to come and hear you speak.

Asking “does that make sense?” or apologizing when your words don’t come out perfectly will erode your confidence and your audience’s confidence in you. If you make a mistake, just keep on trucking. The audience cares less than you think. 

Avoiding Common Public Speaking Errors is Good Business 

All of us fall prey to common public speaking errors sometimes. However, realizing this is the only way to improve. By being aware of those mistakes and working to overcome them, you can capture the attention of any crowd, and ensure that your words matter.

For more essential tips for better business practice, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our expertly-curated Business pages for more actionable tips on how to get the career you want, based on what you have.