5 public speaking mistakes to eschew

Even communicators can get nervous in pitch meetings or when presenting in front of a crowd. Avoid these missteps and endear yourself to your audience. 

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How can some PR pros excel at their jobs without conquering public speaking? They can be great relationship builders, phone pitchers and even masterful email writers—where they don’t have to speak much at all.

For business development, though, public speaking is critical. I’ve seen stage fright take hold in pitch meetings, and it’s not good for business or a PR pro’s reputation.

If you are among those whose knees are knocking, palms are sweating and throats are cracking as you read this post—don’t fret. There are ways to help PR pros overcome the fear of public speaking, be it in a business pitch to five potential clients, or at a conference before an audience of 500.

Here are five common missteps to avoid when speaking to a group:

1. Reading word-for-word. You lose eye contact when reading from a page. That alone is bad enough, but consider when you are nervous: You read slower than usual and don’t sound like an expert. Be prepared and don’t rely solely on improvisation, but please do not read. You become a complete bore and sound unprofessional. Learn to thrive in an organic setting. Roll with it, listen to the audience and be yourself. You would be shocked how much that helps when you pitch, or speak to groups in general.

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