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by Barbara Rocha

Someone asked me recently, "What's the worst mistake speaker's make?"

My answer: The worst mistake is looking at the audience from the wrong perspective.

For some people, looking at the audience from the wrong perspective means not realizing that the audience wants them to succeed-they really do. At the very least they want you to succeed because otherwise it makes them uncomfortable and wastes their time.

For some people, the responsibility is sop heavy that they focus totally on themselves from start to finish. So in their organizing, they never think of the audience, they just include everything they know-a surefire snoozer. Always ask yourself, "What would I want to know if I were in this audience?" And ask members of your expected audience what they would like to know.

Then there's a much smaller group of speakers who also focus on themselves from start to finish, not so much from the responsibility, but more because of the chance to showcase themselves. They enjoy being in front of a group so much that the same thing happens to them: they never think of the audience's needs, and don't prepare their ideas with the purpose of helping the audience.

What all these finally add up to is that your material doesn't connect with the audience, and, worst of all, neither do you. It's hard to sell your point when your material is boring, and it's even harder when you are. If you don't seem real, even good material is suspect.

You can avoid making that worst of all mistakes by making your number one priority to connect with your audience.