It was 20 minutes into the presentation and boredom hung like heavy smoke. Some individuals fought to stay awake. Others sought to stay polite and not walk out.

Mr. Boredom continue to drone on and on. His message took off like a plane from the podium, crashed and burned before it reached the front row. A few sentences that made it to the audience floated right past the audience’s ear and bit the dust.

Though I felt like sleeping, I tried to stay awake to analyze why Mr. Boredom was having this negative, hypnotic experience on the room. Unfortunately, it reminded me of how I have also been boring at times because I have made three public speaking mistakes.

Here are three mistakes he was making and ones we should avoid as speakers.

Public Speaking Mistake #1: He was reading 90% of the time

Think of our eye contact as being like a curtain between the speaker and the audience. When the speaker is looking at the audience, the curtain is open. When their eyes are glued to the notes, the curtain is closed and connection is being lost with the audience.

A few second glances now and then are acceptable, but if that curtain is closed at least 30% of the time, your audience may lose attention.

However, great eye contact does not negate the need for compelling content.  I have seen speakers make 100% eye contact, but they bored the audience because they rambled and had weak content.

Compelling content will hold the audience’s attention. Lack of eye contact can hurt it, but compelling content is key.

Know your speech and have a a detailed outline to jog your memory.

Mistake #2: He was bored with the material

If the speaker is bored,  the audience will be also. Fascinating fact, isn’t it. We must choose topics that we can get excited about. What if we don’t like our topic? Act excited anyways. That enthusiasm will transfer to the audience.

Mistake #3: He had a monotone message, voice, and body language

Think of a great piece of classical music. The music speeds up and slows down. The volume is high and low. That variation keeps our attention. Our message should vary also. Sometimes, we tell facts and other times stories. Our voice should be fast and sometimes slow.

When it comes to body language, change it up. Step out of the podium box on certain points. Raise the hands. Step forward or maybe step back at times. As Patricia Fripp said, “Sameness is the enemy of the speaker.”

Being a boring speaker can be suicide to a speaking career and hinder our career advancement. Don’t make these mistakes and you can keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

(C) Arlen Busenitz. All Rights Reserved

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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