Many keynote speakers who fail to take their career to the next level often commit mistakes that make them boring and unbelievable. Do not be one of them; avoid these seven biggest mistakes:
1.Not establishing eye contact
When you are facing hundreds of audiences, it is easy to lose connection or not consider establishing it in the first place. The point is not really to establish eye contact with all of them. Rather, it is to show that you are trying to communicate on a personal level, with sincerity and compassion. Those you establish eye contact with will feel the connection, while those who see you do it will feel your authenticity.
2.Imitating other speakers
When you try too much to copy the style, tone, gesture, and message of other keynote speakers, the audience sees you as unbelievable, like an amateur trying to make a parody out of well-known public speaking figures. You cannot establish a successful career as a speaker if you keep on hiding behind somebody else’s shadow.
3.Speaking in a monotone
Many keynote speakers think formality always sounds monotonic – that sounding animated will make them look immature and inappropriate. However, old school public speaking is now getting more frowns as newer generations enter politics, academes, and business circles. Younger audiences are more energetic, so the last thing they want is to hear a speaker talking like a radio announcer in the 60s.
4.Starting with long acknowledgment and introduction
It is not new for speakers to start by greeting the other guests, organizers, and audience, and throw some compliments like businessmen trying to fawn over a client. It is a form of courtesy, but the lack thereof does not imply the opposite.
Audiences hate to hear routine greetings because they also tend to anticipate boredom, which is what long speeches are known for. Just by using your first minute on unnecessary acknowledgments, you already lose the chance to catch your audience’s attention and pique their interest. The introduction of VIPs is the responsibility of another speaker, usually the one who gives the opening remarks and not of keynote speakers. The VIPs will understand if you do not mention them at all, unless they are attention seekers of course.
5.Not taking time to mingle with the audience
Formal events usually have “networking breaks” before, in between, and after a program. This is for the guests who want to establish connection with others, like businessmen trying to gain contacts or introduce their businesses with potential clients and investors. You should take advantage of these opportunities to show your authority and establish your credibility, especially if there are influential people in the audience (such as journalists). You can create more impact if your audience already has high expectations of you.
6.Over-preparing and over-practicing
When you practice your speech too often, even minutes before you appear, there is a possibility that you will sound unnatural and speak too fast. The audience will know if you rehearsed too much because you’d sound exactly like that. Just understand the essence of your speech, and let it come out like you really mean it.
7.Reading a speech verbatim
Doing it this way is wrong for four reasons.
First, it is easy to get lost in your own speech if you follow your note word for word. Your eyes can miss where you ended and you are gone. The audience knows when you are lost.
Second, you might sound like reading it, which reduces credibility and authority. Some people in the audience might even think that you are reading somebody else’s speech.
Third, it reduces your chances of establishing eye contact, simply because you are busy reading your speech line by line.
Lastly, there is a chance that you miss the important parts that need emphasis and connection.
Instead of writing your speech word for word, leave some parts where you only have keywords and key points to share. The flow will sound more natural this way.