5 Public Speaking Mistakes to Avoid

Written by the Mic Drop Workshop Team
Woman Public Speaker

As an aspiring public speaker, you’ve most likely seen an abundance of tips and tricks telling you exactly how to build the speaking career of your dreams. In this post, we’re switching up our typical public speaking recommendations and showing you what NOT to do as a professional public speaker. These speaker no-no’s apply to an event speaker of any level ranging from local organizations all the way up to large corporations. If you want to build a successful speaking career, avoid these give public speaking mistakes.

1. Read from Notecards

To provide the best experience possible for your audience and set yourself apart, memorize your talk instead of reading it from notecards or a piece of paper. Reading your talk word for word breaks your eye contact with the audience members and can feel disjointed from their perspective. Use memory triggers to help you deliver your talk seamlessly and without the need to read. If total memorization isn’t possible for you, write down short bullet points to quickly and easily trigger your memory on paper instead of reading word for word.

2. Show Up Without Tech Equipment

Don’t show up to your speaking engagement unprepared! Always expect the unexpected on gig day. From travel to traffic to technology, be as prepared as possible in the event that something goes wrong. If the WiFi goes out before your talk or the event organizers don’t have the right equipment to project your slides, do you have an alternative plan? Bring your own clicker, adapter, and computer, because there is always a possibility of a tech emergency. Check out our speaker equipment list here.

3. Customize Your Entire Speech

A common mistake many beginner public speakers make is thinking that they have to customize their speeches for every event. In reality, you should work to write and perfect one signature talk. If you’re constantly starting over and changing your talk for every single audience, you’ll always be doing a talk for the first time. Instead, get really, really good at one talk. Refine it over time and think of it as your best-selling product you’re giving to an audience.

4. Lecture the Audience

Unless you’re a professor giving an academic presentation, we recommend straying away from the formality of a lecture-style talk. As a keynote speaker or conference speaker, your job is to inspire and entertain the audience and provide them with a valuable experience. As you craft and deliver your keynote, focus less on information and more on inspiration. Let your personality shine through with humor, vulnerability, and powerful storytelling rather than reading off facts.

5. Use Slides as a Crutch

Although slides can enhance the audience experience, don’t depend on them to trigger your memory and get you through your talk. Slides should be used as an accessory, not a necessity. If you do use slides, know them inside and out so that your talk still feels seamless. Try not to read them word for word. As a public speaker, you should be able to do your entire talk without slides if you need to.

Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to learn what you should be doing to start and grow a successful speaking business. Believe it or not, you don’t need any prior experience in the speaking or events industry. All you need is a powerful story and the drive to share it with audiences. 

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