Have you ever been tempted to use any of the following phrases? You may be discrediting yourself and your message and not even realizing it. Use these public speaking tips to increase personal presence and build credibility with your audience – avoid using the following:
- “I don’t know why they asked me to do this.” In an effort to portray humility, speakers often throw away the impact of their opening line. “Who am I to do this, when others are so much more qualified?”
The intention is good, but the technique is not. Your first job as a speaker is to know why you have been asked to speak to this particular audience. What is the unique perspective or information you bring to the presentation? Not knowing what you are bringing to the table does not instill confidence in your audience and certainly does not convey that you are about to deliver something of value.
- “The funniest thing happened to me!” After such a statement, the audience may beg to differ — they may conclude that your story wasn’t so funny at all. Why? You set the group up for disappointment by telling them how they were supposed to react. The same holds true with, “The saddest thing…” or “The strangest thing…” Never tell your listeners how they should respond. Simply tell your story and let the audience react naturally.
- “You’ve probably heard all this before, but…” The logical response is, “Then why tell me what I already know?” Typically, this comment is given as an apology when the speaker intends to share context or background for the main point, to bring the audience up to speed. Providing context, however, is not repeating known information! This statement merely warns the audience to tune out.
- “I know you can’t see this, but what it shows is…” When using a visual, always remember this: if the audience can’t see it, don’t show it.
- “Are there any questions?” This is actually a closed-ended question, implying there may not be questions at all. In fact, it may be received by your audience as, “You don’t have any questions, do you?”
To encourage a response from your audience, use an inviting, open-ended phrase such as, “What questions do you have?”
- “Well, that about wraps it up.” Your close represents your last chance to impact your audience. Never waste this point of high impact with an anticlimactic remark! One way to improve communication skills is to write your close first, which will set the direction of the entire presentation.
Your goal is to leave a lasting impression; therefore your close should reinforce the main point of your presentation, with an added “spark” that the audience will remember.