It has been a while since I played the role of the audience. Last night was one such opportunity. The presenter was an intern from Shanghai and he flew in with his boss to States. His presentation was titled "Life in China" and the purpose of his presentation was to share with us his experiences.
He did relatively well but he also committed several speech crimes which I thought reduce the effects of his presentation. And these crimes weren't really new. Speech coaches and Public Speaking books/e-books/blogs have warned us against committing these seemingly innocent crimes, at the expense of losing your audience. But you know what, people still do it. Instead of reinterating the points, I shall get you into the head of the audience (since I was one yesterday) and perhaps illustrate why you should avoid them.
Crime #1: Not telling us why we should listen to you
Never assume that just because you have an audience, they are obliged to listen to you. We may love you (that's why we came in the first place) BUT never take advantage of the trust we have for you. It is an extreme turn-off when I have to do the work by figuring out how your presentation is relevant to me. We are a bunch of selfish ego-maniacs. We love ourselves so much! And we don't care about your experiences UNLESS it teaches us something that we can use for OURSELVES. So here's a word of advice: If you want to share your experiences, please do. But always include a message, something that will benefit us, your beloved audience!
Crime #2: Ignoring us throughout your speech
We get bored easily. Period. If you keep talking about yourself all the time, we will switch off. We want to be part of your speech. We really do. Get us involved. It could be as simple as asking us a question. It gives us a chance to hear ourselves talk. It could be as simple as playing a mini game with us. It gets us up the seat. Whatever it is, remember to entertain us! Make us love you. We really want to. But if you keep ignoring us and our needs, we will do the same.
Lucky for him, he allowed us to ask questions at any point in his presentation and guess what, we did! In my opinion, that was his saving grace!
Crime #3: Going overtime
No matter how good you are, NEVER go over time!!! Unless we paid you thousands of dollars to teach us something and you are about to share with us the ultimate secret to earning another ten million. If you want your audience to love you, end earlier than expected! It tells us that you respect our time. It makes you special because most speakers don't observe that. And guess what, the next time you give your speech, we will be there to support you!
Philadelphia Funniest Man - won the International Humor Contest at Division Level last year. Absolutely passionate about public speaking and he takes pride in writing articles that are of value to individuals who are seeking to find their voice in public speaking and excel at speaking. You can read more of his articles here: Public Speaking for All!