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Skeletons in the Closet: Bury These 5 Presentation Horrors

Even the best speakers are haunted by their bad habits. If you don’t check yourself, these negative practices will rise from their graves to wreak havoc on your presentation. Following public speaking guidelines isn’t enough.

To be truly at your best, watch out for these five presentation horrors:

1. Smiling Too Much


Smiling seems harmless enough. It helps you build rapport, while also reducing your anxiety and boosting your confidence as a speaker. However, there are instances where a smile may not be the best expression.

Discussing sensitive issues requires a somber face. A neutral expression works when you have to look professional and respectable. Familiarizing yourself with the topic helps you mark cues for the right tone and appearance at the right time.

2. Depending on Memory


Looking down at your notes can actually save you in the middle of a presentation. If you’re not yet confident with your speech, it’s okay to keep a blueprint of your piece with you. Just don’t let your notes distract you from your actual delivery.

But if you’ve already mastered your pitch and you think a script will only ruin your train of thought, then disregard any written guides. Still, there are times when you have to return to your notes. This is acceptable when you’re citing an important quote or specific reference. Just don’t do it too often. Record yourself to know when to interject with your script. Listen to the recording and figure out where you can drop these lines.

3. Overacting


Like oversmiling, overacting involves inappropriate movements that are otherwise helpful to your presentation. This usually happens when you try to incorporate humor. Humor engages the audience through light-hearted anecdotes. Exaggerating your body language to emphasize your jokes will definitely get a few laughs.

At the same time, check your timing as well. Tread carefully through delicate themes, especially if you want people to take what you’re saying seriously. Instead of always resorting to overacting to get attention, find different ways to convey deep emotions in your speech. For example, you can change your tone and display a variety of facial expressions instead of sticking to one.

4. Overusing Authority


As we’ve established with the earlier points, determining your presentation’s ideal tone is important. Although you have full control over your speech, you can’t abuse that authority by going too off tangent from your more main ideas. While a fun story that has nothing to do with your subject might briefly entertain the crowd, it’s also very distracting.

People won’t be able to remember your message if you keep side-tracking their focus with random information. Channel these narratives to supplement your core message. Occasionally go back to your objectives to remind your listeners about them.

5. Asking Unplanned Questions


Some presenters will ask unplanned questions when they’re faced with unexpected problems. This is supposed to deflect tension and draw responses from people, but it only worsens the situation. Unplanned questions tend to change the subject, making things even more awkward for the speaker.

You’ll have to accept that there are different audiences in every presentation. Some are expressive, while others prefer to listen quietly with little reaction. Sometimes it’s better to go on without pleasing everyone than risk making a fool of yourself.

Speech coach Gary Genard suggests that you start by asking the right questions. Focus on those that clarify important points and give your listeners a better grasp of your topic.

Stop these Horrors from Spreading!


Before heading onstage, check your closet for any skeletons of bad presentation practices. Identify appropriate reactions and expressions you tend to make. Trying to lighten up the mood isn’t always going to work in a situation that requires seriousness.

Having a dynamic arsenal of words and gestures at your disposal is more impressive than monotony. There’s no harm in referring to your notes in case you forget what to say next. It’s better to have a backup plan than to fumble and be unable to recover at all. You may think amusing, unrelated stories and unexpected questions will keep your audience at the edge of their seats, but it might just turn them off.

Lastly, always stick to your original plan. This is much better than trying to please everybody by veering off topic and muddying up your message. Remove all your unproductive habits for more engaging pitches you can convert into sales.

People prefer a delivery that is both palatable and informative. Practice diligently to achieve that balance. To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

Share this spooky infographic and save your friends from these horrors!


“For Public Speaking Success, Ask the Right Questions!” The Genard Method. Accessed October 22, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/173002/For-Public-Speaking-Success-Ask-the-Right-Questions

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