Rebel Rising Podcast

Avoid These 5 Public Speaking Excuses

public speaking excuses

As a speech coach, my job is to cheer my clients on and help them push past their public speaking excuses. The resistance to change inevitably comes up, and I help them gently nudge past.

The bottom line is:

Do you want to make excuses or do you want to get better?

I posed this question to someone who asked for my feedback on a presentation and when I gave feedback everyone else was to blame for a lack luster performance. As a speaker, your responsibility is to the audience and giving excuses for failure holds you back from massive success in the future. Here are 5 excuses to avoid:

 Excuse #1: Tough crowd

Sometimes crowds are tough and sometimes you never are able to connect. You can prepare, have a well planned presentation strategy and sometimes your presentation still goes down in flames.

Before saying tough crowd, be honest and think about how well you prepared. Did you meet the audiences expectation for the presentation? Did you understand who they were and what their problems are? Did you answer the 3 questions in order to connect or try to keep them NEAR? If you didn't, then it's time to own up and do you presentation autopsy to see what you can learn. If you did, then it was a tough crowd.

 Excuse #2: There's no agenda

The meeting planner sucks and doesn't give a proper introduction for why the audience is there and the purpose of the presentation. It happens. The speaker's responsibility, no matter how well or poorly setup, is to set the agenda. During the introduction, tell the audience exactly what's in it for them and the take away.  This gives the audience the road map and the reason to be there.

 Excuse #3: I know I went over time, but audiences don't mind

They do mind, and they will hate you for it. If you have 45 minutes to speak and the audience knows you have 3 points to cover, and 20 minutes in you are still on point #1 the audience gets antsy. They start getting angry and tuning OUT  your message. I recently saw Scott Berkun speak, and he told his audience exactly how much time he was going to spend on each topic and stuck with his plan. The relational message to the audience is clear – I value you by respecting your time.

Excuse #4: The audience isn't that important

I hear this a lot in business. “That audience isn't important because they aren't going to give us any business anyway.” My response to this is “Wow just wow”.  Word of mouth spreads like wildfire. The people's time you waste will talk to other people. Those unknown others could be giving you business, but you blew it before you even met them. All audiences are important. They are giving a speaker their time, energy and in some cases their money. They deserve your best!

At the very least they deserve value for their time!

Excuse #5: I can wing it

This is MY excuse. I am guilty, guilty, guilty of the winging it excuse. I tell myself “I've been speaking for 20+ years. I can totally wing this.” I often do this with Toastmasters speeches. My presentations are always better when I don't wing it and when I spend time practicing. I'm pulling a fast one on my audience when I wing it. It's not respectful of an audience's time. I'm cheating myself out of an opportunity to become a better communicator.

Bad presentations happen. The positive side of a poorly received presentation is that it gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and get better the next time around. Push the excuses aside and take your feedback like a (wo)man. 

What excuses are holding you back from achieving speaking success?  Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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