When well-known speaker and writer John C. Maxwell was in college, he took a speech class.  In that class, his professor introduced him to these four unpardonable sins of public speaking.

For the 40 years since, Maxwell ensured that he always remembered these issues and it assisted him in becoming one of the most influential and recognisable leadership speakers in the world.

If you want to be effective in public speaking, being aware of these mistakes is crucial to your success, so here are the four unpardonable sins of public speaking.

Being unprepared – If you want to be an effective communicator, you need to know what you’re talking about.  Before you stand up in front of an audience, you need to have researched thoroughly, practiced hard and be ready to go.  Your listeners will know if you haven’t done the work.  You can’t trick them, you can’t fake it and your credibility will be significantly damaged if you’re unprepared.

Being uncommitted – If you would rather be somewhere else, it will show.  If you don’t care about your subject, it will show.  If your heart isn’t in it, it will show.  The reality is that if you couldn’t care less, then neither will your audience.

Being uninteresting – There are few things that make time crawl to a halt like a boring presentation, but these days there is little excuse for putting your audience to sleep.  Use stories, video clips, energy, humour, eye contact, anything you can to make sure that you can maintain the attention of your audience.  Some people argue that too many public speakers sacrifice quality content in their quest to entertain.  However, you can also have phenomenal content, but if your audience’s eyes are glazed over, you’ve wasted everyone’s time.

Being uncomfortable – I understand that public speaking is difficult.  I certainly still get nervous before I stand in front of an audience, but some speakers are so uncomfortable on stage that it’s distracting.  Communicating in front of a group of people is a skill that can be developed.  If you feel uncomfortable when presenting publicly, practicing your message, getting to know your surroundings before the event and finding a way to deal with your nerves will help.  Having a “pre-game ritual” is also something that many speakers find to be helpful, putting them in a resourceful emotional state that relaxes the mind while still giving them the energy required to deliver a powerful, impacting and memorable message.

These “sins” aren’t unpardonable because they’re intentionally hurtful or offensive.

They’re unpardonable because people will never forget how bad your presentation was and will tune out next time you stand up in front of them.

Are there any other unpardonable sins of public speaking that you can think of?

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