Over the years I have watched a lot of people speaking at conferences, seminars and networking events.

Generally, the calibre of speaker has been very high; event organisers usually find people who really know their stuff. However, I’ve noticed a number of behaviours that don’t help speakers to create the image that their knowledge deserves and minimise their authority.

1) As good as the speakers’ content has been, for some, their credibility has disappeared because they are wandering around in front of the audience for no apparent reason. On one occasion the gentleman in question didn’t actually move but rocked forward from one foot to another throughout his presentation - for 15 minutes!

Another time the speaker’s top half and voice was controlled and had real gravitas. Unfortunately, the bottom half was pacing back and forth, with no direction or purpose, and on the rare occasion they did stand still, one foot continued moving.

Remember to stand on three points (heel, little toe and big toe) on both feet to enhance your credibility.

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2) If you are going to use PowerPoint, don’t read the slides to me! If that was your plan just hand out the presentation, give me five minutes to read without interruption and then I’ll ask questions if need be. Your audience can’t read and listen at the same time and as your delivery of the message, if read, will probably be fairly dull they will stop listening anyway.

3) When speaking, remember to look at the people to the side of the room and not just those in the middle. Those to the side can feel very cut off by the lack of eye contact and just won’t hear as well.

4) And finally, keep to time! If you can’t keep your presentation to time it implies a lot more - that you can’t be trusted to deliver what you say you will or that you will take longer with your project than expected. It never creates the impression you were aiming for!

These are my pet hates. What are yours? Let me know at questions@partnerswithyou.co.uk


Sally Hindmarch

Sally Hindmarch


  • Sally Hindmarch is a communication skills specialist and runs Partners With You, a company that helps people improve the way they come across at work