5 Bad Public Speaking Habits That Disengage Your Audience

Public speaking is essential. That's why we need to learn and avoid bad habits of it.


Andre Oentoro

3 years ago | 4 min read

Public speaking isn’t just about talking. It’s also about how the audience engages with you so that they can retain information.

The audience is not going to engage if you bore them or you fail to make your points clearly. To avoid this it’s good to be aware of the kind of speaking habits that will annoy your audiences.

Bad public speaking habits: What exactly are they?

Whenever you give a speech, it’s easy to make a few mistakes. Even pro speakers make mistakes sometimes. But if you realize that you’ve been making the same mistake over and over, then you probably have that mistake ingrained as a bad habit.

These habits detract from what might otherwise be an inspiring, memorable public speech. Not only do bad public speaking habits disengage your audiences, but they can also destroy your credibility as a speaker time after time.

As a mindful speaker, you must ensure that your audience not only listens to your speech but also retains the message. That’s why you need to connect with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually.

If you’ve been struggling and always find it hard to engage with your audience while giving a public speech, you might have some of these bad habits.

Let’s break them down below!

5 most common public speaking habits to avoid

Habit #1: Not knowing the audience

The first bad speaking habit results in you giving a generic off-the-shelf speech. If you’re not curious about your audience and don’t research them, then it’s impossible for you to address them personally.

Knowing your audience is important and one of the best ways is to check out individuals’ social media accounts and profiles.

Your audience will be able to tell if you have not done your homework, and their responses will range from frustration to disengaging. If you tailor your speech to your audience, they will feel that you understand them and their problems and they will pay more attention to what you have to say.

So, before you give any speech, ensure you know who is in your audience, what their burning issues are, and what you can do to help them.

Habit #2: Making poor eye contact

Eye communication is a crucial skill when it comes to verbal communication. Having said that, whether you're a newbie or a veteran, the next bad speaking habit is not being able to maintain meaningful eye contact with audiences.

Eye contact that only darts around the room makes you look insecure and even arrogant that can make your audiences uncomfortable and they will also have problems retaining your message.

Therefore, to visually connect, you need to make sure to make eye contact of at least three to five seconds per audience. This way, you can slow down your speech and sound more authoritative.

Habit #3: Relying heavily on the scripts or slides

Before you give your audience a speech, it's normal to prepare some materials, such as presentation slides, explainer videos, pie charts, and more. In this case, you should not read what’s written on there and sound like a robot. If you are just going to read your materials word for word, why give a speech at all?

Your materials should not limit your explanation. It only gives you some points that you need to break down furthermore. Therefore, it’s better to use it as a guide for your speech, so you know what to say next. Or to help your audience retain the important points of your speech.

Habit #4: Focusing too much on numbers

Your speech isn’t all about data. Indeed, it’s crucial to also include some facts by including case studies, numbers on statistics, graphs, and more. But, it doesn’t mean that you have to drown your audiences with those numbers.

It’s easy to have a habit of collecting statistics and several case studies to back up your claims in a speech. Statistics or numbers are important; it makes your speech even more trustworthy and authoritative.

However, the analysis of the data is much more important. An engaging and persuasive speech is balanced with both information and inspiration. Show your affiliation with the audience as to why such numbers have an impact and what they stand for.

Habit #5: Not enough practice

A great speech starts with great rehearsals. Even if you’re already a pro, practices still make perfect. It's so easy to put off and procrastinate your speech practices, but please don’t avoid it entirely.

Start by writing down all the points you want to break down in your speech. Once you have the topic and brief explanations down, it'd be much easier to start practicing. By practicing out loud, you’ll understand which areas you’re stumbling over and you can fix them in advance.

Practicing in front of the mirror is a simple and handy way to build your confidence. You can also record your rehearsals and play it back to yourself to understand your pace and get used to the sound of your voice amplified.

Wrapping up

Are you guilty of those bad habits mentioned above? It takes time and practice to get rid of those bad speaking habits. But, if you put in some consistent effort to fix them, the results will be worthy and will help you face any bumps in the road.

Overcoming and avoiding those bad public speaking habits will not only make you sound like a professional speaker but will also build your confidence so that you can get your messages across more naturally.


Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).

Twitter: @breadnbeyond


LinkedIn: Andre Oentoro


Created by

Andre Oentoro

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).







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