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  • Top 10 Most Annoying Speaker Habits

    Ian Ziskin, Top 10 Most Annoying Speaker Habits

    Top 10 Most Annoying Speaker Habits

    Dr. Eric J. Romero, PhD

    Countless speakers do some really annoying things that prevent effective communication. Some of these are a function of blindly following "conventional speaker wisdom", which is unwise. Others are the result of simply not payingattention to how the audience perceives them. Below is a list of the top ten most annoying habits!

    1. Amm, ahh, you know, etc. - These filler words, or sounds, are maddening!If you cannot make a simple statement with out using these, the audiencethinks you are brain dead, stop paying attention or leave. Audiences will love it if you just allow silence to exist in-between your thoughts and sentences.

    2. Kind of, sort of - I recently heard people say, “I sort of sorted the mess” and “I kind of came to work”. How can you sort of and kind of do such things? Either you did it or you didn’t. I refuse to pay attention to someone who is so uncertain about making even the simplest statement! If you want to be perceived as a credible speaker, please stop using these senseless phrases.

    3. Up speak - This is when one ends each sentence with a rising tone, like a question. This makes it pretty hard to convince anyone that you know what you’re talking about, so the audience tunes out! 

    4. Trendy words and cute catch-phrases - If people just stopped to think about what they say, they would cease using these and sound a lot smarterand credible. Here are some examples (many more on my blog).

     - Absolutely! (Did you get a job? Absolutely!)
    -Ding Dong, is anyone home?! This is a simple yes or no answer! Absolutely ≠ Yes
    - Chime-in (I'd like to chime-in)
    - What are you, a clock? 
    - The good news is...
    - Now you think you're a reporter!? Go see a shrinkand when you come back, start saying fortunately instead of pretending to be a reporter! 
    - Pluralizing a name (...the Enrons of the world) - There is only one of these Einstein! Just say, “companies like Enron... ”
    - Push back (we are getting a lot of push back on that idea)
    - This sounds like what happens when you have to #2 but can’t get to the toilet. Is the word resistance too hard?
    - I’m here to tell you…
    - It is a good thing you told me why you are here, I was starting to wonder.
    - Radar screen (That’s not on my radar screen.)
    - What are you an air traffic controller? 
    - Let me (let me tell you something)
    - Do you need my permission to speak
    - Go ahead (go ahead and call him)
    - First you ask for permission, now you are giving me permission! Wow!
    - Quick question, fast facts - Have you ever heard of a slow question or fact?

    5. Being fake - Fakeness is the exact opposite of being real, so why would anyone want that? You cannot communicate with someone if they’re not real. It’s like trying to have a real conversation with an actor in a play. You can talk, but you can’t really know the person because they’re acting like someone else. The audience wants the real you, not a carbon copy speaker! 

    6. PPT slides with tons of words - Some speakers insist of having their audience read during much of their presentations. If you want me to read, just email me the slides so I can read them from home. Why bother coming to hear you read them? Text on the screen means I pay attention to it rather than you, which makes no sense since you are speaking.

    7. Raise hands - We are not in grade school, so stop asking us to raise ourhands so you can feel like the audience is participating! Asking the audience to scratch themselves is also participating, but I don't ask them to do that either because it, like rising hands, provides no value and is silly. If you want participation, have them do an activity, 

    8. Asking too many questions - I came to your speech to get answers, not to give them to you! A few thought provoking questions is fine, but some speakers make an endless list of questions the main focus of their presentation. Give me a break! 

    9. Endless thanking - Many speakers do this at the beginning and thank everyone imaginable. "I would like to thank my mom for giving birth to me." Shut up and get on with your show! 

    10.Stories, stories, stories! - This is probably the best example of following "conventional speaker wisdom". Hey, not everyone has good stories or is a good storey teller! When the audience hears yet another senseless story, they think:- Who cares?- What's the point?- Wow, what a long trip for such a little crumb? You don't HAVE to use stories, you can do other things, really! Speakers can use video, a unique presentation of pictures, art, etc. to make their point or their presentation memorable. 

    ConclusionWe can all become better speakers if we just critically evaluate what we say and do. The best way to do this is to record and critique yourself. To get the most valuable perspective, have the audience, not other speakers, give you honest feedback. The harsher their critiques, the more you can improve. Lastly, observing other speakers is a great way to learn from their good and bad habits. Think about what you say so the audience can believe you are worth hearing! 

    Don't do what everyone else does, be different and real! Think outside the box!©2012 Eric J. Romero, Ph.D.

    Eric J. Romero, PhD is an expert in Unconventional Leadership, Culture, Strategy & Innovation.


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