menu

Characteristics of an Ineffective Public Speaker


If you have ever been stuck listening to a speech or presentation given by an unskilled orator, then you have a cursory understanding of what an ineffective speaker looks and sounds like. Ineffective presenters lack the ability to inform, engage and connect with their listeners. Instead, these individuals leave audiences watching the clock to see when the torture will be over. Although speaking before a crowd may never be fun for you, there are ways to reduce your chance of being an ineffective speaker. As helpful as tips on being an effective speaker are, it may help you more to understand what constitutes an ineffective speaker.

Lack of Preparation

Ineffective speakers are unprepared for the speech they need to give. Audiences will surely notice if you are not prepared. No one expects your speech to be flawless or perfect, but if you are fumbling with notes that you have not organized ahead of time, this will be noticed. Likewise, if you refer your audience to handouts that are unfamiliar to you, this will not go unnoticed. Lack of preparation takes attention away from your words and instead focuses it on on your fidgeting and fumbling.

Reading Rather Than Speaking

Reading exclusively from your notes is a mistake. Notes in and of themselves are not necessarily a negative in public speaking. Notes can help you maintain your train of thought and make sure you don't forget important points, but don't make them into a crutch that you never stray from.

Constantly Apologizing

Apologizing brings attention to things that your audience likely did not even notice. Unless something outrageous happens, apologizing for being nervous only serves to make you and the audience more aware of mistakes.

Poor Delivery

Droning on and on in a monotone level of voice will not win you any fans in the audience. Standing perfectly still and talking while staring at the floor is another way to deliver your words in such a way that bores people and makes your content less interesting. You don't have to be flawless in how you present your material, but an impersonal and robotic presentation is not appealing for listeners.

Absent or Mis-Used Humor

Poorly delivered humor can offend your listeners and make place them in an adversarial position. Too many unfunny or overly corny jokes can fall flat and make you appear pitiable or buffoonish.

Not Practicing

Without practice, your presentation is not likely to find a natural rhythm with logical pausing points for questions or passing around handouts. If you have not read through the material ahead of time, you may find that your speech exceeds or falls far under your allotted presentation time. You don't want the time in front of your audience to be spent scrambling to ad-lib material or assessing what material can be omitted.

About the Author

Charmiane Wilson's writing career began in 1992 as a contributing reporter and writer to "Hollywood Beat" entertainment magazine. This position lasted until 2005, when she returned to her passion of writing fiction. Her novel, "A Series of Prayers," was published in late 2008. She holds an associate degree in business from Axia College.

Photo Credits
  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images