3 Bad Speaking Habits That Ruin Your Presentation

Do you have any bad speaking habits when you are presenting?

How well you influence people can be serverley hindered with bad speaking habits.

Here are 3 of the big ones that we help professionals with every day.

Bad Speaking Habit 1. Noise

The phenomenon ‘Death by PowerPoint’ has been around for a long time. It’s one that most of us are not only familiar with but have been victims of. I was leading a presentation training workshop for a team in London recently when I saw it in the very next room.

During our break, as I left the training room, I noticed that in the meeting room next door another presentation was in full swing. As the room had a glass wall I could see everything that was going on in it. This is what I saw:

A speaker presenting PowerPoint slides to an audience of at least 20 people.

The slide on the screen as I stood discreetly to observe, contained 12 bullet points. They weren’t presented one at a time. They all appeared together.

12 bullet points squashed on a slide presented in a very small font size. The speaker stood with his back practically facing the audience as he stared at the screen. I watched him read out each of the bullet points to a room full of highly intelligent and responsible professionals.

As outdated as it may sound, it’s true. In fact, it’s still one of the most common bad speaking habits we still see every day. It’s a bad speaking habit because of the impact on the audience. Most audiences will see a slide like this as nothing but ‘noise’.

The antidote

Stop using bullet points, your audience don’t like them

Present only one idea per slide

Think ‘Billboard’ — Use images, big bold and compelling headlines.

Never read text out to your audience

Ask yourself how each slide serves your audience (not you)

Bad Speaking Habit 2. More Noise

In our public speaking courses before anyone presents we ask them an important question.

What do you want your audience to feel?’

Sadly, a common response to that question is ‘informed and engaged’. That on it’s own is a bad speaking habit.

In business presentations it’s a given that you are there to inform and engage your audience. On it’s own, it is not enough.

If that’s all you do, it can be very boring to listen to. We already live in a world of information and distractions and your audience are likely to perceive your information as ‘more noise’.

Information can very easily, and sometimes far more efficiently be delivered in an email or document.

Your audience want the information, facts and data. They don’t however, want it at the expense of their time and mental well-being.

The antidote

Decide in advance what you want them to do with the information and how you want them to feel.

Breathe life into the information by telling them the story behind it. Use anecdotes, give them examples and make them feel something.

Ask yourself whether they really need to attend a presentation and whether you could simply say what you have to say in an email.

Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself :

– Why the information matters

-What tangible difference it will make to them

– Why they should care

Don’t dump information on them.

Deliver the information with energy purpose and impact.

Bad Speaking Habit 3. Still More Noise

In our presentation training courses we ask delegates to share their bad speaking habits. One delegate openly said that she generally didn’t prepare or practice for a presentation.

She wasn’t too impressed with my response. I suggested that it didn’t sound like a bad speaking habit to me. I shared my view that it felt more a case of her not caring enough about her audience.

If we don’t commit and dedicate time to preparing and practicing our presentation we are doing our audience a huge disservice. In the absence of clear preparation and practice, all your audience will really hear is more noise.

The antidote

Never make the excuse that you are too busy. Either find the time to prepare and practice or give the task to someone else who will.

Craft your content, don’t just prepare it. I shared some helpful ideas in a previous artice, ‘Presentation Content is King — getting it wrong can ruin a conference’.

– Be very clear on what your message

– Ask yourself why your message is important to your audience ( from their perspective)

– Don’t memorise your message, internalise it

– Practice the way you deliver it verbally. Pay very close attention to your pitch, pace, rhythm, volume, tone and emphasis

– Build in pauses to give your audience time to think, for your message to ‘land’ and for you to breathe

– Practice the way you deliver it physically

– Pay very close attention to the way you move your hands, your body, your legs and even your eyes

– Be aware of the facial expressions you make and how animated you are

– Understand how the way you speak and move adds value to your message and creates the impact you wish to have

Practicing on your own or in front of the mirror or your dog isn’t enough. Practice in front of someone you trust and be open to honest feedback.

None of these habits are new and of course, there are plenty more where these came from. The good news is that they are all avoidable. Mindful presenting allows you a level of consciousness to recognise them. Once you understand the damage they are doing you can make a commitment to avoid them yourself.

Your audience will be eternally grateful.

If you need help with bad speaking habits:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

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Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.

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Maurice DeCastro

Maurice DeCastro

Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.

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