What Are The Top 3 Mistakes Women Speakers Make?
Why am I talking about the top 3 mistakes women speakers make? Do men not make mistakes too? Yes, they do – but there are some that apply specifically to women. These mistakes are easy to make, and also easy to fix once you become aware of them.
Because, would you agree with me, that public speaking does not come easily for most people? And that if you can eliminate the things that the audience will find off-putting, or that distract them from your message, then that makes the job a little easier.
As the prospect of public speaking is anxiety-inducing for most people – is it any wonder that people use coping strategies to deal with the nerves?
But here’s the thing – not all coping strategies are helpful.
Mistake Number 1 – Balls
Now I’m not referring here to any type of juggling! I don’t mean literal balls. What I mean is that sometimes – as in business itself – women can feel that they need to ‘outmen’ the men. They will model a man they know who they feel is a good presenter (who actually may not be very good), and copy their moves.
This often involves ‘death by powerpoint’ and other unhelpful strategies. There are many I could mention – but here are just a few. Way too much technical detail. Being very factual and non-emotional. Phrases like, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen”. “Am I right – yes or yes?”.
Let’s take these one by one.
Death by Powerpoint / Excess of Technical Detail.
If your audience wanted to read a textbook, they could just, well….buy a textbook! The audience wants to understand why they should care about your subject, and they want YOUR take on the information. We live in the information age – people can get any amount of information any time. They want to be inspired, entertained, interested. They want to know you understand their pains and they want to know what YOU know that they can’ find out any other way.
This generally means you need to show you understand their pains, and let them see the REAL you. Ohhh – there’s a scary thought!
Never ever come on stage and say, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen!”. For 2 reasons. Firstly – you should always have someone introduce you on stage. Secondly – I am not a ‘ladies and gentlemen’. I am one single person. And so is everyone in your audience.
You should sound like you are having a conversation. You wouldn’t meet your friend in a coffee shop and start with, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen” – you would say “Hello”. So at the most – say hello, and then get right into the thick of it. Engage your audience straight away by opening with a question, that gets them used to interacting with you right from the get-go!. Don’t imitate anyone. Just be you.
Mistake Number 2 – Boobs.
Here is something many speakers do – of all genders. But it doesn’t matter so much if you are not
a woman. And it is something I call – Boob hands.
You will see it if you watch enough speakers. It is a gesture – with both hands – in a kind of circular movement – which emphasises a certain part of your chest. Which, if you are a man, doesn’t really matter. You get my drift.
Mistake Number 3 – Bouncing.
This is to do with your stance. It’s when you go up on your toes and then back down. It is normally accompanied by putting your chin up in the air. It can look like you are looking down on your audience, and maybe in some cases, it is done to feel superior to the audience. In other cases, it is definitely a subconscious move.
Either way, it is both distracting and also is a “tell”. It “tells” the audience that you are uncomfortable and ready to run. The uplifted chin, shows the audience your neck – which in the animal kingdom is a gesture of submissiveness. Which is not the message you want to put out there.
The other kind of ‘bouncing’ that women do, is the shift from side to side. The putting of all your weight onto one hip and then the other, and even a kind of rocking. All of which looks unstable, and does not position you as an authority on stage.