“The mind is left bereft when it is nothing more than a tool of regurgitation.” -Corey Taylor

Your career graph or job profile aside; few things matter more than your ability to present ideas.

A clear and effective speech helps you:

  • Win audience approval
  • Sell a sales pitch
  • Enhance your reputation or authority
  • Get ahead of your colleagues or competitors

However, if your speech lacks punch or you inadvertently commit one of these seven sins all of these benefits are out of reach.

In this two-part series, you’ll learn more about these harmful speaking habits that cost you your audience.


This is a difficult habit to break. Some presenters place themselves ahead of the audience. You risk alienating your audience, particularly, when you adopt a teacher or authoritative style of speaking.

To prevent this, focus on your listeners –

  • Who are they?
  • What do they need?
  • What is their state of mind?

When you prepare your speech from their point of view, your listeners relate and connect with it.


Do you lose your cool over audience disruptions? Have you reacted in a rigid manner when dealing with unexpected problems?

Some speakers insult or behave rudely toward audience members when they:

  • Speak with their neighbour
  • Forget to silence their phones
  • Turn up late for a seminar
  • Ask questions during a speech

This is the quickest way to lose your audience.  Keep calm and react in a positive manner, even when you’re dealing with a wilful heckler or disruptor.


Some of you may start your speech late and then carry on talking over the allotted time. Your audience is busy, they have places to go and people to see.

If you are constantly exceeding stipulated time, analyse your presentation style and make the necessary changes.

To gain your audience’s respect or to finish on a strong note, be mindful of their time.


A lot of presenters commit the sin of winging it out. They either take it easy or wait until the last minute to prepare. Don’t let your presentation expertise make you over confident.

Take each speech for what it is – a fresh challenge. Your audience can sense when your speech lacks effort and preparation. Why should they pay attention when you haven’t bothered?

For a novice who doesn’t want to fail before an influential audience, practice your speech. Internalise it, and let your passion and interest shine through.

Have you committed any of these sins in your presentation speeches? Stay tuned for the next 3 deadly sins.

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