Business Presentations – Are These The Ten Most Irritating Mannerisms?

Being able to give some sort of presentation is almost a given today, whether in business or not and they come in all shapes and sizes.

And there are certain mannerisms of the speaker that really irritate people and turn them off and unfortunately more often than not the speaker is unaware of them.

Some of them seem to be obvious and common sense but in my experience unfortunately common sense is not all that common.

And anyway why does it matter? Well, if you are irritated or switched off in the audience are you more or less likely to do business with them or recommend them to some one else?

It can have a detrimental effect on the business results and I have come across examples of companies losing significant contracts as a result.

I’ve been doing some research with those in procurement to find out their top 10. Interestingly enough many of them refer to PowerPoint. ( Is this because people feel they can’t present without it now?)

They’re shown below, with comments as to why they annoy and a tip as to how to avoid each one.

(They’re not in any particular order)

1. Doing a PowerPoint presentation and then walking backwards and forwards in front of the screen.

I just want to shout “Stand still!” You can’t see them properly because of the light and you can’t read the screen either. It drives me nuts.

Tip: Don’t be a “Wandering star”. Practice standing still when giving your presentation so as not to distract the listeners.

2. Reading out the PowerPoint slides

I find it insulting – I can read them for myself

Tip: If you are using PowerPoint have graphics or diagrams on your slides that stimulate interest that you then explain rather than lots of text which doesn’t require explanation

3. Every slide the same

It’s really boring, especially when they have so much information on that you cannot possibly read them. What’s the point?

Tip: Keep the number of slides to a minimum and restrict how much information you display.

4. Fiddling with coins in their pockets or repeatedly touching hair, face, fiddling with glasses etc.

It is so distracting. I’m wondering when they’re going to do it next rather than what they’re talking about.

Tip: Practice standing to present with your hands in a neutral position, preferably by your sides, until you have stripped away all of the distracting gestures.

5. Turning around and talking to the screen rather than the audience.

It’s as if they don’t know what they are talking about.

Tip: If you need to see the slide why not use the laptop as an autocue in front of you instead?

6. Turning around and pointing to a something on the screen

It’s really annoying when the speaker goes up to the screen and actually points to it. It seems unprofessional.

Tip: Use a laser pointer

7. Bobbing backwards and forwards to the laptop to change the slide.

I find it distracting and it seems amateurish somehow.

Tip: You can get a remote clicker really cheaply and it would get rid of this.

8. Speaking in a monotone or the tone going up at the wrong time.

I find it really irritating when the tone goes up, like Australians do, whether it is really a question or not. I find myself focusing on listening for that rather than what’s being said

Just one tone of voice all the way through makes it difficult for me to concentrate. I find myself drifting off every time.

Tip: Record your presentation and listen to which tonality you predominately use and adjust it where necessary so that it is appropriate to the flow of the presentation.

9. The speaker using their hands and body too much, too many gestures.

It is really distracting when the speaker is too expressive with their hands or moves about a lot. I find it difficult to concentrate on what they are saying.

Tip: To help identify your distracting gestures (and we all have them but we generally are unaware of what we do as they are often unconscious behaviours) it is useful to video yourself presenting.

10. Just giving information that could be on a handout.

I find it really annoying when I feel that it’s been a waste of my time. The speaker just gives information that I could have read on a website or a handout.

Tip: Bring the information alive by telling stories or using real life examples.

This is just a sample. There are many more.

When you are designing and practising your presentation put yourself in the audiences shoes.What would you irritate you about listening to you? because if it irritates you chances are it will annoy someone else too!