I have listened to many hundreds of speeches. The more I listened to people's presentations and speeches, the more I recognized a "pattern" of flaws that led to ineffective communication. And I discovered that in all these hundreds of speeches there were six major speaking faults that occured over and over again, even among experienced speakers.
I have become convinced about the power of the six speaking faults, and the importance of a speaker recognizing these faults in him or herself. In a February 2001 Gallup Poll, the following question was posed to a representative sample of 1,016 Americans: "Which would help you be more successful in life: knowing what your weaknesses are and attempting to improve them or knowing what your strengths are and attempting to build on them?" Of all those surveyed, 52 percent believed that the secret to success lies in knowing their weaknesses.
If any one of these speaking faults is present—even if you are doing everything else right—your talk loses most of its effectiveness. Here are the six major speaking faults:
An unclear purpose. You want to motivate your audience in a certain way, but they would never know it from your meandering presentation.
Lack of clear organization and leadership. Your speech isn't structured and doesn't flow logically from one point to another.
Too much information. You overload your audience with details, some of them technical and most of them unnecessary.
Not enough support for your ideas, concepts, and information. You have compelling arguments to make, but you don't back your ideas up with colorful, memorable stories and examples.
Monotonous voice and sloppy speech. You believe in your subject and are excited by it, but your voice and manner of speech don't express what you're feeling.
Not meeting the real needs of your audience. You focus on what interests you, rather than on what your audience is interested in hearing.
These faults are closely linked; improve in one area and you almost automatically improve in the next. Of course, it takes patience and practice to truly hone your speaking abilities, but recognizing and eliminating these six major speaking faults will give you a competitive edge and improve your speaking abilities 100 percent!