Six Common Speaking Mistakes

Bill Butterworth was the featured speaker at the October NCWA meeting.

“One of the rewards, or, perhaps, punishments of writing, is that eventually you have to speak about it,” said Bill Butterworth to a gathering of writers at the October meeting of the Northwest Christian Writers Association. An author himself, Butterworth has over 25 years of speaking experience and is recognized as a Top Rated Speaker by the International Platform Association.

With captivating storytelling and self-deprecating wit, Butterworth explained the speaking errors that prevent a speaker’s message from being heard. “Know these six common mistakes speakers make, so you never make them in your own speaking careers,” he advised fellow writers.

Mistake #1: Speaking too long.

It doesn’t matter how great the speech or the speaker, no one ever complains about a presentation being too short. In addition to asking a group, “How long would you like me to speak?” Butterworth suggests asking “When would you like me to finish?” Ending a speaking engagement on time is an act of courtesy and respect.

Mistake #2: Too complicated.

“Give me three things I’ll never forget, rather than 10 things I’ll never remember.” Butterworth believes that “communication supercedes content”. Taking time to develop a few main points and mixing complex information with humor or stories will better communicate your overall message.

Mistake #3: No relevance.

Butterworth advises speakers to find out what the audience wants to hear from you. Determine the audience’s needs and how your message will meet those needs.

Mistake #4: No “take-away”.

Butterworth used a simple speaking structure of “Hook-Book-Took” to illustrate the importance of giving the audience a reason to remember you and your message. “Hook” draws in the listener. “Book” teaches the material. “Took” is what  is left behind after you have finished talking. It could be as simple as a good laugh or a call to greater action.

Mistake #5: Canned speech

“People can smell the rotten fish in the can!” warns Butterworth. Make your material fresh by getting to know your audience and personalizing what you intend to say.

Mistake #6: Not Understandable

Don’t speak too fast or too soft says Butterworth. Also, determine your “big idea” and reduce your material to one encompassing sentence. When your material supports your “big idea” you will be understandable.


Bill Butterworth will continue to entertain and inform through “Finding Your Speaking Voice” at Northshore Baptist Church in Bothell, WA, Saturday, October 9th, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. In addition to discussing common mistakes, Butterworth will discuss speech construction and the power of storytelling and humor. Register for this great opportunity at

Posted by Amy Jo Bazile.

By day, Amy Jo is a preschool teacher and a mom to three young boys. Occasionally, by night, she is a freelance writer, with an emphasis on free. If God is willing, she will soon be a fee-lance writer. Amy has been a NCWA member since 2009.

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About nwchristianwriters

The Northwest Christian Writers Association is an organization of writers providing instruction, encouragement, fellowship, critiquing, and networking. Its purpose is to develop excellent, professional writing that honors God and serves others.

3 thoughts on “Six Common Speaking Mistakes

  1. A fantastic blog. I’ve found these six principles to hold true in my own preaching. As a pastor, I speak over 150 times a year to groups of various sizes, but the same rules apply to any venue. Thank you for sharing this with us!


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