I have just been reminded today of a few more habits that are hard to break, but which are off-putting for those trying to concentrate on the subject that is being presented. I’ve already written about some feet and hand habits, such as pacing and the chin-supporting hand, fingers over mouth position. (I’ve just thought of a name for that – the ‘Heavy-Head Syndrome.’)
Today it’s about noses and hair!
We all know about the phantom itches so many seem to experience. They occur on TV with professionals, so amateurs needn’t fell too bad about them but must still become aware of distracting habits that should be controlled when speaking in public. I’m sure you can think of politicians, singers, TV presenters, conductors, sports personalities and members of the Royal family (I am a Brit – for those who are reading elsewhere in the world!) and more, who have difficulty controlling hands, feet or head.
There are some habits that make me cringe: particularly anything to do with noses – one of the most common of all habits. Hair habits are almost as bad.
- Some people have to blow their noses as soon as they stand up to speak, even though they have no need to, or could have done so before being introduced. If you suffer from nosebleeds, don’t do this before you speak!
- Then there are the nose-wipers, usually using a flattened index finger, sometimes once but often a quick movement from side to side, as if they have a constantly itching nose.
- Then there are those who cannot stop themselves from pulling their noses between a thumb and two fingers. These are usually phantom itches caused by nerves or simply everyday habits.
- If you have a hairstyle that flops over, you need to keep it tidy for your talk. Constantly flicking hair away from your face is irritating to those watching. You might think you’re really cool with hair over one eye but everyone who has such a style keeps flicking it out of the way – I’ve watched and I’m sure of it. It becomes another involuntary movement. Occasionally I have encountered a longhaired speaker who delivers from behind the natural curtain. He or she might be smiling but the audience can’t see.
- There are those who continually run their fingers through their hair, as if they are addicted to it. You might have wonderful hair but leave it alone while speaking, please.
Most habits like this are everyday ones and their perpetrators are often completely unaware that they have them. More public speakers need to watch video of themselves, although many in the public eye, who appear on TV, seem to take no notice or never watch themselves. If you get the opportunity to be filmed, do watch, not for vanity but to see yourself as others see you – it can be enlightening!
It will take practice and concentration to stop these habits temporarily but, for the public arena, it really is worthwhile making the effort, even if they come back when you return to everyday living.