5 bad habits of experienced speakers—and how to break them

You already know that you shouldn’t stand behind a podium, that it’s important to practice, and that PowerPoint can get boring. But did you know about these other bad speaking habits?

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Developing as a speaker has been a long journey for me—25 years. I started off shy, nervous and tentative. Now I’m a high energy, animated speaker, and I love connecting, laughing and riffing with an audience.

But, I’ve picked up some bad habits along the way. I identified some of these habits at Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Retreat. Here is a list of my own bad habits, and habits I’ve observed amongst other experienced speakers.

1. The plastered-on smile

At the Story Theater retreat, I discovered that I smile while I speak. My pattern was to start talking, then smile. This discovery made me cringe. I observed other speakers with this habit and internally mocked them without realizing that I suffered from the same problem.

For me, the habit probably started because I wanted to portray myself as warm and friendly to my audiences. It became so ubiquitous though, that I even smiled when I described unpleasant events. I broke the habit by identifying the segments of my presentation when I shouldn’t smile, and then consciously rehearsed those segments with my face relaxed. Just before starting my presentation, I reminded myself of the times when I didn’t want to smile.

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