The 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking that Keynote Speakers Make

I’ve had the privilege of speaking for over 12 years now – starting with small groups and panels and now as a Global Keynote speaker speaking to groups of over 1,000. One of my favorite things at an event is observing other speakers to see what I can learn from them.

Here are the 7 deadly sins of professional speaking that you should avoid.

Pride – It Is About the Audience, Not You

Remember that your presentation is about the audience, not you. Yes you need to build rapport and be relatable, but it isn’t about you. It is about them. What do they want? How can you help them?

Think less about yourself and more about them.

Greed – Share the Podium and Get the Audience Involved

Incorporate the audience into your presentation – get them engaged and interactive. The stage is yours, but sharing it and driving engagement is the key to success. Most keynote presentations are a part of a bigger conference or trade show. This means that people are tired of sitting and listening.

Get them involved and engage them!

Lust – People Fall in Love with Stories, Not Statistics

Don’t worry about making the audience love you or your content. Worry about telling compelling stories that make your point. Studies show people are most likely to remember stories.

Build engaging and memorable stories in to make your points.

Envy – People Should be Jealous of Your Delivery, Not Your Slides

When planning a presentation, most speakers spend most of their time on the slide deck. The slides should just be there to support your story-telling and presentation. The delivery matters more.

Focus on the story and delivery, not the slides. (although your slides shouldn’t suck)

Gluttony – Trying To Cover Too Much

Some meeting organizers or corporate clients want a presentation to cover EVERYTHING. This just isn’t realistic. If you cover too many things, people remember nothing. Focus on 3 key things that your audience should take away. Don’t try to do it all.

Simplify and organize your message.

Wrath – If Things Go Wrong, Have a Backup Plan

Tech issues, lighting, volume, presentation not working, clicker not working, no internet, connections down… there is no end to the problems you can have. What do you do when you encounter a problem? KEEP GOING and work around it. Tech issues? Don’t make the audience sit there and wait – get started with an exercise or an activity. Start telling a story. Start. I’ve done entire presentations with no slides. People loved it.

Work through tech issues – don’t let them ruin or anger you.

Sloth – Lack of Customization with a Canned Presentation

This is one of my biggest pet-peeves that is actually most commonly committed by keynote speakers (panelists, workshop providers and breakout speakers seem to be less likely to make this mistake. Many keynotes have one big presentation, often based on a book or a hook that they came up with, and they deliver the exact same presentation to every audience.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR PRESENTATION!!! Seriously. The audience should feel like you are speaking directly to them, not delivering the same presentation they could watch on YouTube.

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