Kathy Caprino has written a good column for Forbes regarding public speaking. In this article, she highlights five common errors that people make when speaking to an audience. I found one of her points particularly compelling. Here is the excerpt:
Show Respect for the Listener
Again, I’ve seen scores of speakers alienate an audience by expressing disdain or criticism for some common behavior or thinking. For example, if you’re speaking to social media novices about what they need to do to get up to speed in the social media arena, you must understand that many folks are afraid and insecure about taking the plunge, and you need to be gentle with them, not judgmental, critical or flip. In the end, If you hate or disrespect your listeners for their lack of savvy in your area of expertise, they’ll hate you back. And if you leave your audience feeling that they are losers, failures or unworthy of your respect, then you’ll achieve the opposite of your desired effect – you’ll bruise their sense of self-worth and create a huge rift between you and your audience.You’ll lose them forever.
I agree wholeheartedly with Caprino's point. Too many speakers forget what it feels like to be a novice in a particular domain. They fail to put themselves in the shoes of someone who knows little about a particular subject, or might even be a bit stressed about trying something new or different. Putting yourself in their shoes proves critical if you wish to be a successful public speaker.