"Personal branding" is one of those catchphrases public speakers use to inspire their audiences to think beyond their everyday responsibilities and take the long view of their careers. This especially comes into play for professional communicators, whose mission is to promote a corporate brand. They can easily fall into the trap of becoming faceless—though valuable—players.
These public speakers know all about personal branding, because outside of writing a New York Times best-seller, being a great public speaker is the best way to establish a personal brand. Style is just as important as substance—and we suspect it might even have a slight edge. Your content in a public presentation or speech can be just good enough, but your style has to be great if you want to make a powerful impact.
We asked the PR News community to list the top ways public speakers can lose their audience, and they tended to confirm this suspicion. Almost all of the comments related to poor style, not to poor content. So if you're serious about building your personal brand, seek out public speaking opportunities, and avoid the following:
- Say repeatedly "so, yeah," "I guess," "like" or "ummm"
- Speak in a monotone
- Take too many pregnant pauses
- Avoid eye contact with the audience and read directly from your notes
- Show up unrehearsed
- Insult your audience
- Refuse to use a microphone because you believe you speak loudly enough
- Casually pick your nose
- Underestimate the importance of body language
- Preemptively excuse a poor performance by opening with "I'm under the weather"
- Present yourself as infallible and having all the answers
- Not knowing your audience beforehand
- Start a presentation with the same boring YouTube video on why social media is important
- Have duplicate slides in your presentation
- Lean on jargon and acronyms
- Lack humor
- Neglect to do a mic check beforehand
- Choose to speak on a topic you know little about
- Not show up
Any you'd care to add?
Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI