7 common public speaking blunders—and how to avoid them

Your presentation is your chance to reach many minds, as well as the many other minds that your audience might share with. That can fall apart, though, if you undermine your own efforts.

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In “Confessions of a Public Speaker,” Scott Berkun tells about his life as a professional presenter and testifies about embarrassments and triumphs he’s experienced when speaking.

Over the past two decades, I’ve crafted and delivered many presentations. Below is my list of the seven cardinal sins every presenter should avoid. I have committed all of them, but no speaker is perfect. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

1. Your presentation is too long.

Fidel Castro, the former Cuban leader famous for delivering long-winded speeches, addressed the 1986 communist party congress in Havana for seven hours and 10 minutes.

Still, El Comandante‘s listenership may have called itself lucky because PowerPoint launched officially in May 1990. By extrapolating the slideware generating habits of some of my colleagues at work, I estimate that El Caballo’s oration might have been good for about 750 slides.

Some sources claim you need at least one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation; this would have taken El Jefe Maximo a mere 430 hours (almost 54 working days) of crafting.

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