Over the last couple of blogs I have looked at what type of story structure to use and how to actually start a presentation.
But what if your credibility is shot before you even open your mouth – and you don’t know it?
IN A BLINK OF AN EYE
Recent research has shown that people make a (literal) snap judgement of someone in about 2 seconds.
In other words, no matter what else you do, and how well you do it, how well you get your message across might well depend on the first impressions you make.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
In the first two seconds your audience are working out whether:
- to listen to you and find out if …
- it is going to be interesting enough to pay attention
- your presentation is likely to be boring or exciting
- they should respect you and remember what you have to say.
A lot can be decided in a very short space of time!
SO WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
Make sure that you are dressed appropriately FOR YOUR AUDIENCE
TIP 1 DRESS FOR THE OCCASSION
- don’t dress in a sharp suit if you are giving a safety lecture about heavy machinery, for example
- don’t dress too casually if you are talking to bankers about investment (Venture Capitalists and Business Angels are something else again – check what the culture is first and match it)
- Always dress a bit smarter than your audience – if you can.
TIP 2 BE READY
Be there, set up and ready to go (with all your equipment plugged in and checked) before your audience gets settled in.
TIP 3 START WITH A BLANK SCREEN
If you are using slides, turn them off. Even better still, start with a black or black slide as if it was turned off. Then you just need to press a button and you are ready to go. Smooth.
TIP 4 STAND IN FRONT
If it can be avoided, don’t stand behind something. Move to the front and away from lecterns, desks or anything else that acts as a real or metaphorical barrier between you and your audience.
Start by standing still and not saying anything until the room has quietened.
Then start. With a smile.
TIP 5 QUESTION TIME
Try starting with a question. Once you have their attention, relate the question to your presentation and you are off and running.
SO WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
In each case you are forcing your audience to pay attention to you. Your 2 seconds have been used to impress them and buy you the time it needs to get them willing to trust you.
They should now be impatient to hear what you have to say. And you have convinced them that you are more than likely going to be interesting and worth paying attention to.
If your presentation is well ordered – you have chosen the right structure for example – and if you have mastered the techniques of actually giving a good presentation once you are stood up there, by making sure your first impressions are good impressions, you should have what you need to do something terrific.
If you need more information or help, then please do get in touch. Oh, and if you have found this article of interest – and the video – then a little like would not go amiss.
Until next time, then.