The Antidote to Bad Presenting Habits


Woman present on stage

Do you have bad presenting habits?

One of the greatest concerns in the world of public speaking and presenting is bad habits. In fact, it is within the top 3 requests we hear from delegates on every one of presentation training workshops.

‘How can I get rid of my bad presenting habits?’

Here are the top 10 bad  presenting habits we help professionals overcome every day.

– Reading notes or text on a slide

– Umm, Err, You know, Sort of, Obviously

– The monotone voice

– Pacing and swaying back and forth

– Keeping your hands behind your back, in your pockets or clasped together

– Fidgeting with a pen or slide changer remote

– Fiddling with your hair or a ring

– Speaking too fast

– Making a statement as though you are asking a question

– Not making eye contact

All of these are of course involuntary actions, none of them are conscious choices

At Mindful Presenter our definition of a bad habit is: ”Anything said or done, repeatedly. to the point of distracting your audience‘.

If you agree with our definition then this is where the challenge begins

On every presentation training course we run, at least 80% of the room are adamant that they have one or more of these bad presenting habits.  When it is their turn to stand and present and we ask the rest of the room to give them feedback, most of these bad habits aren’t evident.

Often, the presenter will insist that they spoke too fast, swayed back and forth or used the term ‘Err’ repeatedly.

Despite their conviction, their fellow delegates are equally adamant that they saw no evidence of the bad habit.

The stand-off

How is it possible that the speaker can be so insistent in believing that they fiddled with their ring or swayed profusely, yet no one else saw it?

The phenomenon extends way beyond bad habits. Every day we coach professionals who tell us they feel extremely anxious about presenting in front of others. When they’ve finished their presentation we ask them to tell us on a scale of 1 to 10 just how anxious they felt.

Very often, we ask the question and the presenter tells us they felt highly anxious.

We then ask the other participants if they saw or felt the presenters anxiety

Most people don’t see or feel what the presenter does

In fact, quite often, the rest of the room say that they saw absolutely no evidence of such a high anxiety level.

Why is that?

At Mindful Presenter whilst we are not psychologists or doctors, we do have a technical term for the cause.

‘Head stuff’

‘Head stuff’ is that incessant voice in your mind that repeatedly tells you that:

‘You’re not good enough’

‘You Umm and Err far too much’

‘You’re rubbish at presenting’

‘You are going to mess this up’

‘Your audience will see how terrified you are’

‘Head stuff’ is just the voice of the ego

According to the author, motivational speaker and success coach, Tony Robbins, we each have 6 fundamental needs as human beings:

  1.The need to feel significant

2.The need to feel certain

3. The need for variety

4.The need for growth

      5. The need for contribution

      6. The need for love and connection

The moment we stand to present our ideas or speak in public, every single one of those core human needs is screaming out loudly to us in our minds:

      1. ‘This is my chance to look good and impress everyone’

2. ‘This MUST go well; my entire reputation depends on it’

3.‘To stand out I have to be better and different than everyone else’

  4. ‘This is a huge opportunity for me raise my profile’

5. ‘I only hope that my audience will value what I have to say’

6. ‘All I really want is for them to like me’

No wonder we carry such burdensome ‘head stuff’

It’s easy to see where our ‘head stuff’ comes from. It’s not quite so easy to understand why it’s only something that seems to plague us which our audience can’t see.

Passion is the antidote to bad habits

When we ask delegates to present to us something they are extremely passionate about, as they stand to speak something almost magical seems to happen.

Their passion takes them to a place where they can speak easily, eloquently and freely. The bad habit which may once have been visible or audible seems to vanish.

Does it really vanish or do we just not notice it?

Does it matter?

If something which was once a distraction to you then disappears completely, why should it matter where it went, as long as it’s gone?

When someone is challenged by bad habits, every time they speak about something they are passionate about those bad habits either disappear completely or simply go unnoticed.

If passion is the key then why don’t we all use it?

That is another part of the phenomenon.

It seems to be very easy for someone to speak about something personal that they really care about with passion. It doesn’t seem quite so easy when we are giving the quarterly update, sales pitch or team briefing.

Just because we are speaking about work that doesn’t mean we have to lose our passion?

We owe it to ourselves and to our audience to find something we are passionate about in what we have to say.

Every now and then one of our clients will explain that they simply can’t be passionate about what they are saying because it is such a boring topic.

Our response to that statement is quite challenging and disturbing to some people as we believe you only have two choices.

1. Find something in what you have to say that you really care about and can feel passionate over because you know it will make a difference to your audience.

2. If you truly can’t find anything to get excited about then you owe it to yourself and your audience to find a new job.

Passion is the elixir to high impact presenting. It’s the antidote to bad presenting habits .

Passion allows both you and your audience to feel:

– Significant

– Certain

– Different

– Growth

– Contribution

– Connection

Why would you deprive your audience of passion?

Try it for yourself the next time you present, and watch those bad presenting habits dissolve into the ether.

If you’d like to overcome your bad presenting 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

Image: Courtesy of




Share this article

Leave a comment

Download our Free Guide

Sign up for our newsletter and download your free guide to authentic public speaking.

When you sign up, you’ll get a link to our free guide, plus helpful public speaking articles posted on our site. You can unsubscribe at any time.