There are certain mannerisms that really annoy people, and can stop them from listening and engaging in what you’re saying with their full attention.
Why does that matter?
Well, if you are irritated or switched off when listening to a speaker, are you likely to do business with that person or recommend them to someone else? Poor speaking skills can have a hugely detrimental effect on your business results.
I’ve been doing some research to find out the top ten most irritating habits.
Interestingly enough, many of them relate to PowerPoint. (Is this because people feel they can’t present without it now?)
Here is a list of the top ten most frequently mentioned annoyances, complete with quotes from people I’ve interviewed explaining why they find them so off-putting. Have a look and see which of the following really grate on you:
The 10 Most Irritating Mannerisms
1. Speakers who walk back and forwards in front of the screen while presenting
“I just want to shout “Stand still!” You can’t see them properly because of the light from the screen, and you can’t read the text either because they’re in the way. It drives me nuts.”
2. Reading out the PowerPoint slides
“I find it insulting – I can read them for myself thanks.”
3. Making 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?”
4. Speakers who are constantly fiddling
“It is so distracting watching speakers who constantly fiddle with coins in their pockets or are repeatedly touching hair, face, glasses etc. I’m wondering what they’re going to do next rather than what they’re actually talking about.”
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. 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 something on the screen
“It’s really annoying when the speaker goes up to the screen and actually points to it. It seems unprofessional. Why not use a laser pointer?”
7. Bobbing backwards and forwards to the laptop to change slides
“I find it distracting and it seems amateurish somehow. You can get a remote clicker really cheaply, and it would eliminate the need for this.”
8. Speaking in a monotone, or the tone rising at the wrong time
“I find it really irritating when the tone goes up, like Australians do, regardless of whether the sentence is really a question or not. I find myself focussing on listening out for that rather than on 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.”
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.”
10. Just giving information that could be on a hand-out
“I find it really annoying when I feel a presentation has been a waste of my time because the speaker has just given information that I could have read on a website or a hand-out.”
…and there are lots of others.
What winds you up or irritates you most when you’re listening to a business presentation?
Let me know by posting your comments below.