As part of the process in preparing for my new role as adjunct faculty at the University of Miami’s Office of Professional Advancement, and the rolling out of our new two and one-half day UM Legal Marketing Program next month (hopefully), I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the subject of public speaking.  As many speeches as I have given over the years, I still know that I can always get better.

There is a lot of good stuff out there in addition to the Great Public Speaking blog, which I really like.  Yesterday, thanks to Findlaw’s The Practice Paper e-newsletter, I ran across another one.  It is an article by Carmine Gallo, a communications coach/author/speaker with an impressive background.  One of his columns in Business Week Online covered “The 10 Worst Presentation Habits” (click on arrows at top right to move through slides).

Here are the 10 bad habits:

  1. Reading From Notes (know material so well, you don’t need notes – that isn’t to say you can’t sneak a peak every once and awhile as I have mentioned before),
  2. Avoiding Eye Contact (“maintain eye contact with your listeners at least 90% of the time,” according to Carmine),
  3. Dressing Down (always dress appropriately, but “a little better than everyone else”)
  4. Fidgeting Or Using Annoying Gestures (conveys nervousness.  If guilty of doing so, practice with a video camera),
  5. Failing To Rehearse (winging it is never a good idea, even if you know your material by heart.  See an earlier post on this point here),
  6. Standing At Attention (move around, use body language, be “animated in voice and body”),
  7. Reading Your Slides (always bad – his rule for slides “no more than four words across and six lines down”),
  8. Speaking Too Long (if you can get message across in less time, do it. Carmine says “listeners lose their attention after approximately 18 minutes”),
  9. Failing To Excite Audience (tell them why they should be excited about your talk and give them a “reason to care”), and
  10. Ending Without Inspiring (its okay to summarize your talk, but leave audience “with one key thought”).

So, how many bad habits do I have?  Ain’t tell’n.  BUT I may see a point or two that I could improve on.  How about you?