Have you ever been in a meeting or conference with a distressed orator on stage? It can be anyone – a new intern what you should NOT say or do in a meeting! or a senior member of the staff. Within moments of their opening, they say something that loses the interest of the room. So here is a list of things you shouldn’t say or do in a meeting if you wish to keep your credibility

Opening with an excuse

'I was only invited yesterday', 'I worked till late last night and I am a little tired', etc. are some very common openings we hear in a meeting. The truth is, nobody wants to hear it. If you are then and there, then do your bit! Don't bother your audience with excuses.

Dodging valid questions

People also get anxious when they forget what they were going to say to start with their speech. You can counter this anxiety by practising your opening lines over and over, till it's on your tongue.

We often see speakers who dodge questions by saying, “I'll cover it in a later slide.” However, if someone in the audience is interested in what you have to say, explaining it to them at that moment is essential so that they don't lose any interest. In fact, you can even compliment them for asking that question, which will in turn encourage others in the audience.

Tap.. tap... tap...

A lot of people start their speech by tapping the microphone and asking, “Am I audible in the back?” However, most of the time they don't get any answer from the audience and then they look sideways. To avoid this, you should realise that checking the mic is not your responsibility. You should go ahead and start with your speech and if it is not working, then the people who have arranged it will come in and help. Just bear a warm smile on your face to appear confident to the audience.

Squinting your eyes

When you are speaking on stage, you can't see all of your audience. Sometimes the lights will be shining in your face and other times the people you are trying to address may be seated far away back in the rows. However, you don't need to put a hand above your eyes and cringe, attempting to see them. Just stare out in the dark, smile and confidently say what you want to. If you are going to count hands, then ask someone to turn on the lights in the room.

Wondering if the slides are readable

You should consider this when you are designing your slides. Don't try to fit in too much text on every slide and use it just as an opportunity to remember the points you are going to explain in your speech. Never ask your audiences if they can all see it!

Reading out text

You should never have too much text on your slides or people will start reading the slide and not pay attention to what you have to say. So, if you have something very important on your slide that you want the audiences to read, let them read and stay silent for that amount of time.

Asking everyone to Turn OFF all electronic devices

Forget it! If you say such a thing, you'll come off as a school teacher. These days everybody takes notes on laptops and tablets, so it is within reason that they have it on the desk. Be confident in what you have to say and make it so inspiring that people will want to listen to you instead.

Telling people not to take notes

Even if you are going to make your presentation available to them later, you should never tell them not to take notes. People like to write down their own thoughts and things you say in a presentation. In some cases, it might actually be more important than what you have to say, for example - an idea for a new business. So, you should never tell people what not to do in your presentation, apart from asking them to turn their phones to silent so it doesn't start ringing in the middle.

Start answering a question in the middle of your presentation

Yes, we had said earlier that you should answer questions when they are asked. But before you start answering that right away, you should repeat the question loudly for all of your audience to hear. It will make it clear to them what you are talking about and also give you that extra bit of time to think about it.

Don't promise to keep it short

Almost everyone who is ready to make a speech promises to keep it short. However, when they don't, the audiences are left tiresomely looking at their watches. You should concentrate on keeping the content interesting rather than worrying about time. If your presentation is interesting, your audience will also not worry about the time. Make your opening inspiring for the audience by saying something like, “These 25 minutes are going to change your life for good” or “What we are going to discuss in the next 15 minutes, we'll all remember it for the rest of our lives.”

You should come in prepared for the meeting and be open and friendly with the audience. Remember that people don't like speakers who are there to say out things that they can read in a book. Make your presentation interesting and personal. Talk about things from your own perspective and be passionate about them to command your audience's attention.

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