Presentation Skills: Watch Your Mannerisms

Many a good presentation has been ruined by a mannerism. A mannerism is a repetitive and distracting gesture, movement or use of words, and you’ve probably seen presenters use most of them.

1.Ending every other sentence with the word ‘okay’ or ‘you know’
2.Fiddling with a ring, a necklace or a piece of clothing
3.Clasping the hands just above waist level
4.Jangling coins in a pocket
5.Twirling a piece of hair or scratching your nose
6.Swaying from side to side

Mannerisms are nervous gestures that become distracting and irritating when you keep repeating them. They might not be noticed at first but once they are, you’re in trouble. As the twirling and fiddling continue they soon draw the attention of the audience completely away from the content of what you’re saying.

Chances are you’re unaware of your mannerisms so start out by becoming aware of how you look and sound. Ask a friend for honest feedback, and even better, watch yourself on video to see yourself as others see you. Once you know what you do that’s irritating, you can stop doing it. It’s often that easy.

If you need reinforcement or you’re scared you’ll relapse in an important presentation, ask a friend to sit in the back of the audience and give you a prearranged signal if your mannerism starts up again.

Fixing mannerisms is an easy aspect of presentation skills to get right, and yet many people allow them to destroy what would otherwise be good presentations. Don’t let them destroy yours.