A keynote speaker might be well-versed on a specific topic, but that does not necessarily mean they can also deliver the speech effectively. Many speakers know their subjects very well but still fail to impart knowledge at the best of their abilities simply because there is no connection between them and the audience. What good is a speaker if there are no ardent listeners?
Even famous keynote and motivational speakers sometimes commit mistakes. What you should do is copy what works for them that might also work for you but leave those that do not make sense and just spoil the moment. Here are seven common mistakes a keynote speaker make.
1. Not understanding what the event is all about
When you are commissioned for a speaking engagement, the topic will already be given, but what about the theme and goals? What kind of treatment is needed to fit the theme and achieve the goals of the organizers? Make sure that you understand what the organizers want to achieve at the end of the event.
2. Not preparing a presentation material
Gone are the days when keynote speakers only relied on their voices and charismas to engage audiences in the speech. You are in the age of tablets and Bluetooth, so your audience is most likely to expect an engaging visual presentation.
Create a PowerPoint presentation, slides, videos or anything that will complement your message better.
3. Using flamboyant presentations
Visual presentations support your speech by making your main points and ideas clearer and easier to understand. It is still your mouth that should work most of the time.
Do not rely on presentations to bridge your message because the audience is there to listen to you and not watch your slides. No extravagant presentation will replace substance in speech.
4. Not writing the speech for a specific audience
Oprah Winfrey once said that when you speak in front of a “Black” audience, do not use “White” English. That means do not be too formal when your audience speaks “you is” and “I are.”
An empathic keynote speaker knows what type of language works best for his audience. Sometimes, it is not about the substance but the approach of the speech. Do a research if you are new to a place.
5. Beating around the bush
You do not have the whole day to waste on long introductions, interminable funny anecdotes, questions and long pauses. You need variation to become a more effective keynote speaker, but that does not mean you should lose your focus, which is to deliver a message as clear as possible.
Create a structure for your speech and plan your delivery carefully. Each section should have a projected time of delivery.
6. Not being up-to-date
Are you sure that your speech is not a rehash from your past speaking engagements? Does it cover relevant information? You are now living in a fast-phase society where one’s speech goes out on YouTube the next hour. People talk and they talk with one another instantly through the internet.
Make sure that you research for relevant topics and approaches. You should also rest old jokes and overused anecdotes. You do not want to end up laughing all by yourself while the audience has question marks on their faces.
7. Not assessing your performance
The norm dictates that even the most bored audience should standup and give you a round of applause after your speech. Some might even say you changed their lives even if they do not remember you from the past at all. Hence, the only reliable and credibly way to assess your performance is to have someone you trust watch you from the audience. This way, your companion can truly observe the reactions and hear the whispers of the audience as you deliver your speech.