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5 Presentation Habits That Skilled Speakers Should Avoid

Professionals sometimes neglect minor factors while presenting, often thinking that they’re trivial.

However, they forget that these seemingly insignificant habits can make or break their presentation.

Though there are guidelines to remember when speaking in public, there are also negative practices that could ruin your performance.

Here are five practices that presenters should avoid:

  1. Oversmiling

Learn when to smile and when not to.

What are the advantages of smiling?

Smiling helps you build rapport and connect with your audience, while also reducing your anxiety and boosting your confidence as a speaker.

When shouldn’t you smile during your pitch?

Though almost a given, remember not to smile while telling unfortunate stories.

You can also use a neutral expression to show professionalism and respect, especially when you’re discussing sensitive issues.

Knowing your content also lets you identify what part of your pitch requires specific kinds of facial expressions.

  1. Depending on Memory

Know when to depend on your script.

For beginners, it’s advisable to use notes to help them remember their cues.

For experienced speakers, it’s better not to depend on scripts to appear more professional and prepared.

However, there are times when you have to return to your notes. You may need to refer to your references if you’re discussing a particularly complicated topic. This is acceptable, as long as you don’t do this too often.

Try recording your speech and listening to it, watching out for any lines that stand out to you. List down anything from your speech that sounds powerful. You can use these as guideposts for the best times to deliver your strongest lines.

  1. Overacting

You can add humor to your speech to lighten your audience’s mood, making them more responsive. You may use stories that require exaggerated body language that’ll definitely make your audience laugh.

However, when delivering a serious topic, be gentle when you dramatize. This’ll convince your audience to feel the deep emotions you’re portraying and emphasizing.

  1. Overusing Authority

Learn when to be enthusiastic and when to be serious.

You can entertain your audience by telling them irrelevant anecdotes and information, but this doesn’t get you anywhere closer to driving your big idea home.

Don’t use your authority to overly engage your audience with stories that have nothing to do with your main message. You might get them into a better mood, but they’ll fail to recall what you want them to learn and understand.

If you want to use stories, tell only those that support your core message.

Always get back to your presentation’s main objective.

  1. Asking Unplanned Questions

People often end up asking unplanned questions when they make a mistake or when an unexpected event arises.

This is most presenters’ last resort in regaining their audience’s attention, but this often causes them to neglect their original plan for their pitch.

Understand that you have different types of audiences; some are expressive, while others are straight-faced.

While asking questions is important, only include relevant queries to save time and avoid boring your audience.

Start by asking the right questions, that is, those that clarify important points so that your listeners can better understand you.


Great presenters often overlook some practices that disrupt their presentation’s success.

However, understanding these negative presentation habits lets you avoid them and develop a more effective presentation. 

Know when it’s appropriate to smile during your presentation. It’s usually fine if you’re talking about something lighthearted, but it’s better to put on a neutral expression when discussing controversial topics.

Though reciting your pitch from memory makes you look like a professional in your field, there’s no harm in referring to your notes in case you forget what to say next. It’s better to have a back-up plan than to fumble and be unable to recover at all.

Using different facial expressions can add an emotional punch to your points, but don’t overdo it or you’ll only look like you’re forcing it.

You may be tempted to tell your audiences all the interesting stories you have in your head, but only share those that actually have something to do with and support your core idea.

Finally, don’t ask unplanned questions or you’ll drive your discussion off-track. Always be prepared to ask the right questions to regain your audience’s attention.

Removing all these unproductive habits are guaranteed to make better, more engaging pitches that convert into sales.

To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!


Genard, Gary. “For Public Speaking Success, Ask the Right Questions!” The Genard Method, February 24, 2013. Accessed June 9, 2015. http://www.genardmethod.com/blog-detail/view/69/for-public-speaking-success-ask-the-right-questions#.VXcdKs9Viko
Mitchell, Olivia. “The 5 Bad Habits of Experienced Speakers.” Speaking about Presenting, June 2, 2011. Accessed June 9, 2015.  http://www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/presentation-skills/bad-habits-experienced-speakers/

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