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Improving Your Presentation Skills – What to Do about Your Presentation Weaknesses – Part 2


I love my dad.  He’s a great guy with a playful sense of humor.  Last summer when he was in Atlanta for a visit, a bunch of us were chatting and the subject came up that my dad said “cotton picking” a lot… it was one of his go to phrases.  He was surprised by the comment.  He genuinely disagreed.  “I don’t say that,” he insisted.  Five minutes later he was complaining about the “cotton picking” way something had happened and we all burst out laughing.  “You just said it!  You just said cotton picking!”   Even dad got a chuckle out of the observation.

When we present, we’re all subject to what I call “the detractor that is hidden only to you.”    Whether it be a verbal or physical habit, we sometimes have ticks that can distract our audience from our message.  The hardest of those to correct are the habits that everyone else notices, but that are hidden to you.

Verbal Detractors

I was watching a video of myself speaking recently and noticed that I repeated the phrase, “that kind of thing” several times.  I had no idea I was repeating that particular phrase.  After watching the video, I started listening to myself in ordinary conversation and – there the phrase was again!  It was my own version of “cotton picking”!

Most often, the verbal detractors come in a common form such as:  um, ah, you know, so, and, like… the list goes on.  Record yourself and see if you have any of these common detractors.  Be brutal with yourself.   Count the number of times you use one of these detractors.  You may not think you say “you know” or “um” a lot, but if you’re wrong, those detractors can be extraordinarily distracting to your audience.

Ask your family, co-workers and friends if you have any “cotton picking” or “that kind of thing” phrases that you use a lot.  They’ve wanted to tell  you but didn’t want to hurt your feelings.  Ask them to be honest and tell you so that you can get better.

Body Language Detractors

I once listened to a speaker who had this habit where his tongue would dart out of his mouth past his lips like a snake every couple of sentences.  It was very distracting.  I know the speaker.  I know this isn’t something that he does in normal conversation.  And I’m certain he had no idea he was doing it that night.  Luckily I guess, it was a small audience.  This is where watching your video can be beneficial again.  As can asking others to tell you what body language habits are hidden to you.  If you want to get better at presenting then knowing those detractors and eliminating them will be worth the initial embarrassment of realizing you have the bad habit.

Can You Find the My Hidden Detractors?

Here’s the link to my YouTube channel.  Do I have any verbal or body language detractors that are still hidden to me?  If so, please let me know!  For the love of God and my future audiences, please do tell me!!

Do You Want Us to Look for Your Hidden Detractors?

If you want us to look at your presentations on YouTube to look for your hidden detractors, please add your YouTube link to the comment section!  Let’s help one another overcome those detractors hidden only to us!