I’ve been a professional speaker for the last 9 years.

“Professional” basically just means that I own a sport coat and a belt.

The number 1 mistake that I see over and over is actually very simple.

Want to know what it is?

It’s a mistake that people make whether they’re talking to 10,000 people or 10. I think that’s what we forget sometimes. Public speaking doesn’t just mean you’re a famous person on stage. (Like Betty White or Lorenzo Lamas.) It also means you know how to lead a meeting at your company.

Being able to clearly communicate an idea is critical for your career.

You might never keynote a big event, but if you need to get buy in from your manager at work, you better know how to deliver a speech.

So, what’s the mistake most people make?

Most people think the first step in creating a speech is to write the speech.

It’s not.

The first step is to understand the audience.

When you give a speech, you’re not there to speak. You’re there to serve.

It’s not about you.

It’s about the audience.

The first thing you need to do, long before you work on your speech, is talk with the audience. If it’s an event, you need to call the event planner. If it’s a meeting, you need to talk with one of the attendees.

Every time I give a speech, I ask the client a specific list of questions I have developed over the years. Some of the questions are obvious, but one of them is very, very surprising.

Depending on the size of the event, I’ll even go meet with them face to face. It gives me the chance to get a sense of how to best serve them.

One of my goals with a speech is to make the audience know I care about them. I don’t get to do that unless I know them.

Empathy requires curiosity.

Have you ever been at an event where you could tell the speaker had one speech and no matter who was in the audience, it was going to be the same talk every time? You feel invisible, like you don’t matter.

That speaker didn’t try to understand who was in the crowd.

They had a stock talk and that’s what you got.

What questions do I ask people before I talk to them? How do I use social media to really figure out who my audience is? What’s the best thing you can ask before you lead a meeting or speak at an event?

I’ll give that and much more with my new free resource, the Speaker’s List.

Once a week, I’ll send you a speaking idea it took me years to learn. My goal is to help you give better speeches. Pure and simple. If you’re a professional speaker, my goal is to help you make more money in your speaking career.

How you communicate your ideas matters, regardless of what your job is.

Ready to win at public speaking?

Sign up here.