Devin Bisanz, March 28 2020

3 Mistakes Amateur Public Speakers Make, And What To Do Instead

Hello and Welcome,

Nobody wants to sound like an amateur, especially when it comes to public speaking. 

If you get a speaking coach then you'll never sound like an amateur! 

But perhaps you're like me and you're not afraid of speaking up. You don't need a speaking coach, you need an audience. That means that chances are you will make all three of these amateur mistakes just like I did. 

The three biggest mistakes amateur public speakers make are:

1. Starting off with an excuse
2. Telling long, boring stories
3. Starting strong and finishing weak

1. Starting a speech off with an excuse.

BOOOOOO! Never tell people how nervous you are up front. Instead, open up with your powerful statement and get right into your speech.

Let your hands and voice shake but NEVER say, "I’m sorry, but I didn’t have a chance to prepare, or oh man, when the bride told me I was doing a speech I didn’t expect this many people. Or, man that last speaker, Devin Bisanz, was so amazing, I don’t know how to follow that." 

ALWAYS start with one of 5 powerful speech openings: Question/Quote/Statement/Short Story/Joke 

Pro tip: hold your hello and welcome until after you hook the audience. 

Example:  "Walt Disney said, 'The way to get started is to stop talking and start doing'... Hello Welcome!"

2. Telling long boring stories. 

Amateur speakers turn a 2-minute story into a 50-minute speech. I get it, the audience isn’t talking back so you think you have to give every detail. I made this mistake many times, but luckily I made it in front of teenagers and teenagers are rude. Teenagers don't laugh at jokes, they get on their phone, they make rude remarks, and they'll tell you if they're bored. Teenagers taught me how to use joke saver lines like, "You liked that one huh? I got 100 more where that came from!"

Every speaker should do 100 speeches in front of teenagers as training.

That being said, teenagers are culprits of the other end of the scale, they don't tell long enough stories. A teenager will use a three word sentence and then say, "Don't you get it?" 

Then they'll go, "UGGGGGHHHHH!" 

A good place to hear long story longer speeches is at weddings. The father of the bride get's up and shares every detail of the brides childhood for 20 minutes, and the audience hears, “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” BUT, the audience still love's the speech because most people are scared to death of speaking, and a wedding party is there to have a good time.

Pro tip: keep your stories to the story highlights. Let the audience fill in the details. There’s an old saying that the best speech has a great beginning and a great ending, and has them close together. 

Rule of thumb: speeches shouldn't go longer than 5 minutes. Toastmasters will tell you 7 minutes, but unless you're a seasoned speaker, or you're funny as heck- shorter is better. I encourage speakers to make a point, or joke every minute or minute and a half.  

3. Starting strong and finishing weak 

Every amateur speaker has done a speech where they get to the end and they say something like, “that’s it, or that’s all I got!"


No, No, No, No, No. Start strong, be strong throughout, finish strong! 

If possible, save your best point for last. 

The best way to sum up a speech is to give the audience one key take-away. Remember the audience only cares about what's in it for them so tell them what's in it for them. What do you want the audience to do/think/remember? 

I like to give audiences homework. I want them to practice what I preach. The second lesson I teach in my training program is the SEE Factor. Everybody should know this. Before you say a word, you stand in front of the audience in one of many power poses (lesson #1), and you do three things:

S mile- creates a mirrored image
E ye contact- builds trust
E nergy- makes people want to listen

When I get to the end of the lesson I recap, "Okay, if you want to sound like a pro then start your speech strong with the SEE factor, and what does the S stand for?" Sometimes it takes a couple minutes for people to figure it out. Then, I continue, "And what does the E stand for? And the other E? Excellent, now get into your speech and finish with a quote or call to action."

In this case I'm going to end my speech with a reminder that you are unique- just like everybody else. Avoid making everybody else's mistakes! 


Devin Bisanz

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Devin Bisanz

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