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Your message: Are you making these public speaking mistakes?

Use this checklist to determine if you are making mistakes with your message when you speak in public:


1. Are you being unclear about your purpose?

If you can’t state in one sentence the purpose of your talk, you’ll find yourself including information that does not connect, is irrelevant or both.

The fix: Take the time to write (and rewrite) a strong and specific purpose statement for your speech. Test every key point, example and tangent you want to include against this purpose statement (and when in doubt, throw it out!).


2. Are you sharing “just the facts, ma’am”?

Is there emotion somewhere in your speech? If you’re presenting data without emotion – if you’re not connecting data to the human condition in some way – your talk will be flat, your message will be forgotten, and the time you spent talking will be wasted.

The fix: Decide how your audience will likely feel coming into your talk (what’s that emotion?) and how you want the audience to feel leaving your talk (what’s that emotion?). Then decide what experience you will create with the storytelling in your speech to move your audience from emotional point A to emotional point B.


3. Are you forgetting to provide sufficient context around your storytelling?

Too many young leaders jump right into the middle of a situation or a scenario, assuming that every member of their audience is starting from the same page. This is rarely the case, especially if you are the perceived subject matter expert on a topic. If you start in the middle instead of the beginning, you risk confusing your audience right from the start.

The fix: When you begin, meet the audience right where they are; start by taking a few steps back and frame the proper context so the audience is prepared and ready for what’s coming next.


4. Are you telling stories that are too complex?

Young leaders who are novice speakers often include too many tangents when they’re telling a personal story to make a point; meanwhile, the audience gets bored, lost or both, and misses the point of the story completely.

The fix: Write out your story and then edit it down to the bare but colorful bones; make sure you end with a concluding line that connects the dots for your audience so you clearly confirm the point you are making.