Public speaking is not easy. If it were everyone would be good at it, no one would make stupid
suggestions like “just picture everyone naked,” and I would probably be selling Rodan and Fields. Public
speaking is such a difficult art form because it has so many ways you can fail. The majority of
issues in public speaking fall under three common mistakes speakers make.
Speaking without energy
Speaking without vocal variety
Speaking as if you are reading lines
In my next three posts I will be looking at how these mistakes can torpedo a speech, and how you can
We’ll begin with low energy
When you are speaking in public you are not only in charge of your energy, but the energy of every
person listening to you. You can either bring the energy of the room up or take it down. The lower the
energy goes the less likely it is people will remember your message, pay attention, or even stay awake.
You want to keep your energy, and the energy of the room, at a level where people will listen and
From the moment you start speaking you need to command the space. You don’t want to give people an
opportunity to look at the architectural details of a room or wonder if it’s time to change their nail
polish. All eyes should be on you. Your energy level is what will make that happen.
You wouldn’t run a marathon without at least stretching out your hamstrings. In turn, you should
never give a speech in public without taking a little time to prepare. Tongue twisters, vocal warm-ups,
stretches, or even taking a short, brisk walk are all good ways to get your energy up before you speak. In
addition to warming up your body, it is essential to warm up your mind as well. Take a minute to get in
the right headspace for your performance. Clear out all the other things in your life that are pulling your
attention so that you can give your full energy to the task at hand.
Use Your Whole Body
Public speaking is so much more than just the sound coming from your mouth. Your entire body is
involved in getting your message across. Make sure your posture is impeccable. The minute your
shoulders slouch, so does the energy. Use your hands to help make points and direct the attention of
the audience to you. And be sure to move. Standing like you are frozen will leave people cold. Even if
you have to be in one spot, be sure that there is some movement in your body.
Project Your Voice
No, I am not talking about yelling. This is not about volume; this is about projecting. Projecting means
that every syllable is clear and understood, and that you are using a commanding voice. The minute you
start to mumble, things will go off the rails. Also, try to avoid vocal stumbling blocks like ums, and ahs.
Each time you say one you suck the energy out of the room. You may as well just be saying “duh.”
If you aren’t paying attention to what to what you are saying then why should anyone else? It doesn’t
matter how many times you give the same speech, each time you do it should be like the first
time. Model for the audience how they should engage with your content.
Keeping your energy level up and your shoulders straight will help you avoid a number of public
speaking pitfalls. It will help you avoid speaking too softly. It will keep you from speaking too slowly or
losing your train of thought. It will also help you look 20 pounds lighter and 15 years younger. Okay,
maybe those last two aren’t true. But having the right energy will definitely make you a better public