One Minute Mistakes – How to Avoid Them
Gavin Meikle is the founder and lead trainer at inter-activ presenting and influencing a communication skills consultancy. Gavin helps individuals and teams master the art of public speaking and influential communications. He is also the author of The Presenter’s Edge, a practical guide to creating and delivering better presentations.
MNC Networking meetings are always lively and dynamic and yet I believe that some members don’t get as much out of them as they could because they haven’t mastered the art of creating influential introductions. In fact, many sell themselves short by making some easily preventable mistakes. In this article I’d like to shine the spotlight on six of the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them.
JUMPING STRAIGHT IN WITH THE IMPORTANT STUFF
People often start their elevator pitch with their name, company name and what they do. The problem with this is that they start speaking as they begin to stand up and before the audience has had time to “tune in” to their voice. This delay means that those first few words often go unheard.
• Take your time and take a breath as you rise
• Don’t start speaking until you have stood up and made eye contact with the audience
• Don’t start with your name. Instead, say good morning, share a brief anecdote or pose a question first. Something that allows your listeners to get used to your voice before you get into the “good stuff.”
Some networkers develop the bad habit of mumbling their way through their elevator pitch. Audibility and clarity are essential for understanding People prone to this problem fail, not because of poor content, but because their audience can’t make out what they are saying.
• Practice speaking slowly and clearly
• Ask for honest feedback from a trusted friend or colleague
• Raise your head and speak out towards your audience, not down at your notes or the floor
SPEAKING TOO FAST
When you are nervous and unprepared, it’s tempting to talk as quickly as possible so you can “cram it all in” or “get it over with”. The result is that your listeners feel overwhelmed, overloaded and are unable to take in most of what you are saying.
• Take a breath before you start and feel yourself relax
• Make eye contact with your audience and smile
• Avoid trying to cram too much information into your one minute- Less is more!
• Slow down and take your time (When rehearsing, aim for around 130 words a minute)
• Pause between each section or idea to give your audience time to digest each morsel of your message before moving on to the next.
LACK OF A CLEAR, LOGICAL MESSAGE
Following a talk that has no apparent purpose is confusing and off-putting. If you have no idea what you are going to say before you open their mouth, it’s little wonder that your audience often switches off. Before you get to the “good stuff.” People with this problem are also prone to overshooting their allotted time because they suddenly remember something else that they want to say.
• Before speaking, ask yourself “What do I want my audience to do after my elevator pitch?”
• Make time to plan the outline of your pitch – Proper planning prevents poor pitches and presentations
• Always aim to respect your audience by sticking to time
So, what do you think?
If you are guilty of any of these common speaking blunders, do yourself and your audience a favour and doing something about them. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. If you have a pet elevator pitch pitfall that I haven’t included here, leave me a comment below, and I’ll update the post.