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When You Speak,<br> <i>Don’t</i> Jingle or Deliver Other Distractions!

When You Speak “Did you ever spend a lot of time on a ship?”

That was the question I asked the speaker I was evaluating at a Toastmaster Meeting.

The reason I asked, was that Michael, the person I was critiquing, possessed the habit of rocking from side to side during his speech.  He wasn’t aware of it, but it was so bothersome I had to mention it.

Michael, like all Toastmasters, was attending the meeting to improve his presentations.  Just telling him what he did correctly wasn’t going to help him get better.  I certainly did mention the positives of his presentation, but ‘sandwiched in’ the ‘room for improvement’ advice.

Whether it’s rocking back and forth, jingling change and keys in pockets, or filling dead air space with ‘Ums and Ahs and You Knows’, those distractions compromise the delivery of your message to the audience.

Often, as in Michael’s case, it’s something you’re not aware of.  This is one reason it’s important to have someone critique your talks and/or film yourself so you can see and hear how you present.

Other personal distractions could have to do with your appearance

  1. A stained shirt or jacket

  2. Food on your face or in your teeth (I’m not kidding.)

  3. Too flashy jewelry that sparkles too much.

  4. Outrageous clothing that ‘sends its own message’

There are some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid delivering distractions.

  1. Empty your pockets before speaking.  No coins or keys = No Jingle!

  2. Have a friend in the audience quietly ‘signal’ you if you start swaying or rocking.

  3. Put a Post Note on the lectern or on top of your notes or mind map with a reminder .

  4. Get a good night’s sleep the night before a presentation.

  5. Practice – Practice – Practice

  6. In front of a mirror.

  7. In front of friends and family.

  8. In front of a camera.

  9. Look in a full length mirror before coming to the lectern.

  10. Check:

  11. Clothing – zippers, buttons, for lint & hair

  12. Self – hair, face

Eliminate personal distractions when delivering your presentation and your speech will be absolutely, positively – No Sweat!

About the Author:

Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.


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