What is a habit?
According to the American Journal of Psychology as early as 1903, a habit is defined as “a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.” Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form, but it is possible to form new habits through repetition. The process by which new behaviours become automatic is habit formation.
Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed. This is due to the fact that a person exhibiting these habits does not engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks. They are apparent to third parties observing and assessing each individual’s performance.
There are habits associated with positive and desirable traits and practices whereas there are habits which are undesirable and frowned upon. The collection of habits shared by successful professionals is widely considered to set a recipe for effectiveness.
What are the good habits of presenters?
There are different sets of habits associated with effective speakers. However, they mostly deal with the function, the form and the content of a presentation. The one set of habits that really stands out is the one related to effective teachers. Not surprisingly, since educators are professionals who need an intimate relation with their audience, a passion for their work and a deep knowledge of their subject. These habits describe the core essence of a communicator. Carrie Lam , Academic Director, Teacher & Workshop Leader, in Canada, has identified 11 of these which can be extremely revealing and illuminating when they are applied to public speaking. Eight are listed below in the form of a checklist for presenters.
1. ENJOY PUBLIC SPEAKING.
Public speaking is meant to be gratifying and fulfilling for all participants. You can expect your audience to have a rewarding experience if a presentation is a rewarding experience for yourself. How much a speaker has invested in time and effort reflects in the preparation and the delivery of the presentation. Participants respond accordingly.
2. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
A presenter’s main goal should be to make a difference in the lives of the audience: by making them feel special, by exerting a positive influence, by motivating and inspiring them. Their time and effort should be appreciated and respected. The speaker is among other things a role model and this responsibility is not to be taken lightly.
3. SPREAD POSITIVE ENERGY.
Be someone who is always enthusiastic, happy and smiling. Always remember that optimism is contagious and it is up to the presenter to spread it. Don’t allow other people’s pessimism bring you down with them. All professionals carry their own luggage of problems and worries. However, it is very unprofessional to dump them onto their colleagues and associates.
4. GET PERSONAL: TELL A STORY.
Make an effort to get to know your audience. Try to identify with them as much as possible. After all, the presentation is about the audience, not the speaker. Spice up the content with stories that engage, involve and motivate participants. Help them relate the content to their own professional, social, even private lives. Best stories come from an ordinary experience.
5. BE COMMITTED.
Prepare and deliver a presentation for the love of communicating, not because you feel professionally obligated. Do it for self-growth and development. Do it to inspire and motivate others. Do it so that your audience will get the most out of what you are discussing with them. Always try your best; that is the least that you can do.
6. BE ORGANIZED.
Always try your best to be on top of things. Do not let deadlines threaten your professionalism and effectiveness. Plan ahead and avoid last minute ditches and solutions that undermine who you are and what you can offer. Be true to yourself and to what others think of you (or at least what you would like them to think of you).
7. BE OPEN-MINDED.
As a presenter, you will always be under scrutiny, formally or informally. Every speaker is constantly being evaluated and criticized by peers, bosses and participants. Encourage feedback and constructive criticism. Formulate a plan of action. Check what issues need to be addressed and in what order. There is always room for improvement and use what others see in you that you may not have considered noticeable or significant.
8. EMBRACE CHANGE.
Be flexible without compromising your principles and standards. An effective speaker works proactively. View obstacles as opportunities for challenge and development. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Embracing change is the first step towards appraising a situation that may otherwise lead to an impasse. Everything in the world changes so why should you be an exception?
Finally, remember that according to Aristotle “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”