public speaking

Don’t Do This!

Public speaking is a love or hate kind of thing. I really enjoy it, but many people would rather crawl under their chairs than speak to a group of people.

But everyone can become better at public speaking. A good start is avoiding these common errors.

X Go over the time limit

Time is precious. Practice is the key to making your presentation or offering your keynote talk within the time limit. Respect your audience’s time.

X Speak in a monotone

Robots don’t make great speakers, so add some life to your voice. Be enthusiastic about the topic. If it is a larger crowd, you may need to boost your tone even more when you speak.

X Look at your feet

Make eye contact. Smile. We want to connect with you. We want you to do well.

X Use big words

The current occasion is a superb diurnal to augment your lexis. Not. This is not the best time to increase your vocabulary. Use your own words. Avoid jargon. Being clear is always the best course of action.

X Be someone else

You can learn from great public speakers, but don’t imitate them. Be you. That’s the secret sauce to effective public speaking.

What are you going to do differently the next time you speak?



If you would like your team to become better public speakers, we can help. Look for courses under leadership and communications, training for trainer, or we could customize the training for you.




  1. Glen Munro on February 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    #6 – Mistake the PowerPoint for the presentation
    The PowerPoint is no more the presentation than the hammer is the house.
    Don’t mistake this tool as “the presentation”… YOU are the presentation… PowerPoint (or keynote, or other) is simply the supporting document

    #7 – Read the Slides
    No one has EVER walked off a stage and been told”Thank you… that was so exciting.. it was like a book on tape live…”

    #8 Ask the audience to read a lengthy quote
    You are the presentation. If you have a quote, read it yourself.
    If you ask the audience to read something lengthy, remember,they don’t want to… they came to see the movie, not read the book. People read at different speeds. Some will skim and skip the detail, some will read every word quickly, some know they are slower readers and may be embarrassed/frustrated if they don’t get tot he bottom of the quote when you are ready to move on.

    #9 Assume that they will ask questions if they have any.
    The larger the group, the less likely anyone is to ask questions, in particular related to understanding as they don’t want to “sound stupid”. They would rather nod along as if… don’t believe me? Make up an acronym and throw it into your presentation and see if anyone calls you on it… bet they don’t.

    #10 Be afraid to fail
    You don’t have to know it all. Don’t be afraid of challenging questions that you may not know the answer to. You are better off saying “Let me look into that and get back to you” than overloading your presentation with so much data just out of fear of being asked something.
    Superstar tip… If you get asked a question that you do not know the answer to EARLY and there is a break… get the answer during the break. You will look like a rock star and you may encourage questions.

    • Catherine Doucette on February 22, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      I agree with all of them. #6 is the most difficult to persuade people because they’ve seen it for so long that they think it is a good thing.

  2. Julie on March 12, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    The best thing I could say is that if you aren’t having fun on stage, public speaking isn’t for you. If it’s truly your passion and you are having fun doing it, it will show and you’ll be just fine.

    • Catherine Doucette on March 14, 2016 at 9:06 am

      That’s a good point, Julie. At the same time, I’ve watched people become solid public speakers once they get the tools they need. They just didn’t know where to start prepping or the basics of speaking.

  3. Mark Breen on February 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Great list! Public speaking is a skill and the more you practice the better you’ll get. Look for opportunities to do it, join Toastmasters, etc.

    • Catherine Doucette on February 23, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Thanks, Mark. You’re right. Practice builds skills and confidence.

  4. David on May 24, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Amazing list! This is very similar to the tips I give to my MUN students when they talk in a conference.

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