It is said that the fear of public speaking is greater than fear of death for some people. Giving a presentation can be nerve-wracking at first, but with time and practice, it becomes easier. Even if you are fairly confident in your public speaking skills, your astute audience might be able to pick up on a few nervous tics as you give your presentation. Here are four presentation habits that you should avoid.
Nervous speakers infuse their speech with lots of “ums” and “ahs.” If this happens too often, then your audience will pay more attention to the filler than the content. Filler words and cliché phrases such as, “at the end of the day,” add no value to what you are trying to say. A polished speaker can convey his or her ideas without extraneous syllables.
Sometimes the only way to relieve anxiety is to move. While it is not necessary to nail your feet in place to be a strong presenter, pacing and fidgeting can betray an otherwise calm exterior. It can be engaging to take up space in different ways. The key is to make sure that your movement corresponds with what you are trying to say.
Some of us talk with our hands. Hand motion during a presentation can feel natural or add emphasis to important points. If you feel like you are conducting an orchestra, then you may have taken gesticulation beyond its auxiliary capacity. Calm your flailing arms so that your hand motion doesn’t take away from what you are saying.
Tone and Pace
The best speakers know how to use the tone of their voice to convey their message. Speeches delivered in monotone are not enjoyable to hear. Tone not only keeps your audience engaged, but it can convey meaning as well. Ensure that you are breathing from your diaphragm and projecting so that your words come across as clear and confident.
Along with tone, audiences will pick up on your presentation’s pace right away. Nervousness tends to make us rush through our content. Rapid speech can be frustrating to process. The silence of a pause can feel daunting, but it can give your audience an opportunity to grasp your ideas.
Set yourself up for success by noting the tics that slip into your presentations. Some people practice in front of a mock audience or record themselves so that they can pay particular attention to speech patterns and presentation habits. Nervousness around public speaking is ubiquitous, but most audience members want to see you succeed. Speak clearly, stay on message, and go forward with confidence.