THE BLOG

The Gifted Speaker -- Throwing Yourself Under the Bus

04/14/2014 04:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2014

No one likes to dwell on the negative. Okay, maybe they do, but let's just pretend we'd prefer not to. Last week we talked about the "5 Ways to Achieve Confidence" when giving your presentation. This week, let's reverse it.

5 Ways You Throw Yourself Under the Bus

1. Bad posture
Just as good posture says "I am ready," bad posture says, "I don't want to be here and don't want to talk to you." Or worse, "I am so much cooler than you and even if I'm not cooler than you I think I'm cooler than you." Not cool. Don't bring your social escapades into the office. Bring in your professional self. Stand or sit tall, with your shoulders back and down. Give a small bend to your knees so you don't pass out. Hold your head high. Be proud of what you are about to say.

2. Bad diction
"Mumble, mumble, something, something, barely audible, barely audible, unintelligible." Bad diction is as bad as filler. This tells your audience that you are unbelievably shy (if they are being kind) and you really don't want to sell me this product (if they aren't). Enunciate your words and project. Projection comes from using your breath to move your sound. If you have a problem with projection it's time to get a coach. They can help you be heard without you shouting or sounding like you are making your Broadway debut.

3. Talking too fast or too slow
Ever feel like your listening to an auctioneer? Ever feel like you are speaking like an auctioneer? Sold! You are the victim of fast-talking. Pace is important. It allows you to build your case and present your piece and it allows your audience to keep up with you. Talking too slow is just a bad. The problem with talking too slow is that I'm parking cars between your statements. I've stopped paying attention. Yup, I'm on the fast train to not listening to you.

4. Growling
I would rather not worry about your vocal chords during your presentation. That and I would like to actually hear your presentation. Growling, as we've discussed, forces the voice to be quiet. It's hard to hear the actual content when you growl. It's even harder to pay attention.

5. Filler overload
"Um, like, you know?" Maybe you need to slow down. Maybe you need to find a way to give yourself a moment. Try pausing. Keep in mind; an occasional filler word is not going to kill your speech, but for some the filler is a way of life and not a visitor in their vernacular. If you know exactly what you are going to say and you don't have a regular habit of peppering your speech with "like, um, you know," then you should have no problem in this department. If you do use filler on a regular basis, then it's probably time to get a coach. In either case the key here is to know your material.

The Bright Side
Knowing where you can go wrong will help you to watch for these pitfalls. With everything positive you are attempting to put into your presentation it's good to look at what you can avoid and what may pull your speech down.