The 10 Most Annoying Speaking Habits to Avoid During a Presentation

When speaking in front of an audience, it’s easy to fall into bad habits if you aren’t aware of them. Whether you’re giving a presentation or just casually talking with coworkers, certain habits can hold you back from being effective, and even annoying your audience. To help you make sure that your speaking habits are up to par, we’ve put together this list of the 10 most annoying speaking habits to avoid during a presentation.

1. Giggling

While laughter can be infectious, it should be avoided during presentations. If you’re struggling not to giggle during your talk, take a brief break in order to regain composure and then proceed with your speech. You will come across as unprepared and amateurish if you crack up in front of an audience.

2. Poor eye contact

When speaking, it’s important to give eye contact with those in your audience. If you’re not giving anyone your attention and looking around constantly, it looks as if you don’t care what they have to say. You should also avoid breaking eye contact when transitioning from one point to another—unless there is something very important coming up.

3. Biting nails

It’s easy to dismiss nail biting as nothing more than a nervous habit, but it could also be an indication of actual stress or anxiety. Try not to bite your nails during presentations—and if you do, stop! It’s not only distracting for listeners, but it might also make you look nervous. If you must chew on something, try chewing gum or candy instead.

4. Yawning

While yawning is a natural human reaction, it can have an adverse effect on your audience. Not only does yawning make you look bored, it’s also contagious. If you start yawning during your presentation, try covering your mouth. Also be sure to keep eye contact and speak with emotion. This will be enough to hold the audience’s attention while they avoid missing any key points in your presentation.

Woman presenting

5. Rubbing eyes

Rubbing your eyes (or putting your hands over them) is an unconscious defensive gesture. It can make you look insecure, like you’re trying to escape or hoping no one sees you. It also indicates that you’re nervous and uncomfortable, which will rub off on whoever is listening. So don’t do it! Put your hands behind your back or in front of you and keep them still.

6. Using too many hand gestures

One or two is fine, but flailing your arms all over the place will not impress anyone. If you find yourself doing it, take a deep breath and try putting your hands in your pockets instead. You’ll appear more confident and relaxed—and that’s always good for business.

7. Forgetting words, stuttering, speaking too fast, etc.

These are all things that tend to happen when people are nervous. To control your nerves, focus on taking deep breaths and remembering what you’re going to say. Practice makes perfect—the more speeches you give, the easier it will be for you to relax and get through them without feeling flustered.

8. Not smiling enough

The audience will be watching you for cues, so if you seem nervous or tense, they will be too. In order to feel confident on stage and appear charismatic and relaxed, smile! Research has shown that simply forcing yourself to smile can make you happier. There’s no need to force it—just set your intention first and watch your muscles respond with ease.

9. Poor preparation

Confidence is everything during a presentation. If you’re well-prepared, and have done your homework on whatever it is you’re speaking about, you can bet that your presentation will be enjoyable and engaging. However, if you end up unprepared and/or winging it, don’t expect to win over any new followers or make any successful connections. Practice makes perfect—so get as much practice in as possible before that big speech.

10. No interaction

Sometimes, speakers stick to slides or simply read verbatim from their paper. Not only is it easier for you if you don’t have to listen that closely, but it’s also boring. Interactive presentations will keep your attention and probably keep more audience members engaged in what you have to say. A great way to achieve this engagement is by using an audience response system. This software helps you generate Word Clouds, Q&A’s or online polls all while you are presenting. This will keep your audience on their toes!

Robert Daverschot

Robert is a professional moderator, presenter and speaker coach. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and works for a broad range of industries. He has interviewed ministers, captains of industry and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With it, an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in comments to speakers and panels on stage. As such, events turn into lively dialogues with everyone being able to speak up!