What common mistakes should you avoid when starting your speech?
If you want to start your presentation with a bang instead of a bust avoid these ten mistakes. These 10 tips will show you how not to start your speech and what to do instead.
1. You like me, you really like me
Sally Fields said this when she accepted her academy award. Her gushing outburst was mocked because it seemed unprofessional. We all want to be liked but Sally pushed our puke button with her act. If they are giving you the award don’t insult them by pretending that you don’t deserve it.
2. Tell a joke
If you read an old book on public speaking that tells you to start with a joke – burn it and purge anything you read from your memory. That is a terrible way to start your speech. It’s difficult to tell a joke well in front of an audience. It usually fails – a bad way to start your speech. Don’t start your speech with a joke.
3. How is everybody today?
You have probably seen the “motivational speaker” wannabe start his presentation with this question. Then he repeats the question only louder when the first response was too weak. It looks, sounds and feels phony and annoys people. That’s a bad way to start your presentation.
4. I don’t know why I have been asked to speak
Imagine the thoughts that go through the minds of your audience when you start with this phrase. If you don’t know why you are there then just imagine the feeling of panic this confession will ignite in your audience.
5. I’m really nervous
It’s okay to admit imperfection. But don’t tell your audience that you are a lousy presenter, this is your first time, or that you are very nervous. That conveys lack of confidence. Often they can’t tell the state of your nerves so keep it to yourself. If you are a lousy presenter they will decide on their own soon enough. Don’t foretell your own presentation disaster.
6. I’m really not prepared
How would you feel when the speaker says this at the beginning of his speech? You might think about leaving the room, checking your email, or tuning out at the very least. As the presenter, you want to build interest and anticipation when you start your presentation. You want your audience to perk up and think, “This could be good.”
7. I’m sorry
Don’t start your presentation with an apology. I’m sorry for starting late. I’m sorry that the coffee was cold. I’m sorry that the real speaker couldn’t be here. What a depressing way to start a speech.
8. I’m perfect; you’re not
Your introduction said flattering things about you to build your credibility with the audience. But you must not start your presentation appearing to be perfect. You need to build rapport and one way to do that is to appear humble.
Maybe the introducer messed up your introduction. Perhaps the conference appeared badly organized. Maybe the venue screwed up the registration and the meal. The speaker before you might have chewed into your presentation time. Don’t criticize. If you do that, the audience will tune you out.
10. Kissing up
You are the most beautiful audience to which I have ever spoken to. Yuk! You can compliment your audience but make it appropriate, sincere and factual. False flattery stinks of snake oil.
Be sure to avoid these bad opening lines in your next presentation.