I realize that it is important for us to work on appearing natural while making a presentation. If, however, we become too natural and relaxed, we may not even realize that we have adopted one or more distracting habits that will rob our presentations of their power.
Avoid what I call the “speaker’s samba.” It is actually better to stand comfortably still than to get into a repetitious movement that resembles a dance. I have become noticeably distracted by speakers who move three steps forward, three steps to the side, three steps back, and three steps to the opposite side. It is not always “three” but it is repeated many times. Someone told them it was a good idea to move around, so they initiated this awkward approach. A video will provide an eye opener if you are unaware of your movement around the platform. Just remember that any movement without a natural purpose will distract the audience.
Watch where you are walking. While we are discussing movement — a good addition to a presentation if done with purpose — I want to caution you to be careful of common pitfalls. If you are using an overhead projector, a slide projector, or a computer generated slide show, do not walk in front of the light source. When people in the audience are distracted by seeing your silhouette on the screen, they will lose all focus on the brilliant words you are presenting. If you want to walk in front of your projector, turn off the light or blacken the screen with a dark slide. Also, be cautious about walking back into the audience. If you turn your back on the participants in the front rows, you will lose their attention completely.
Make note of other presenters’ habits when attending keynotes, seminars, and/or workshops. I have always attended many presentations, and not only for the information I will learn. I make note of the good, the bad, and the better. Oftentimes, another speaker’s habits will serve as a wake-up call to a habit I have that I wasn’t even aware of.. I also love to observe the great speakers — not to mimic them — but to make note of what makes them so special and unique.
Remember to check out your habits. Getting rid of the distracting ones will take you to another level of becoming a polished, professional speaker with pizzazz and panache.