When you stand up to speak in public, the first impression the audience have of you is visual, and it will take them those first few seconds to make up their minds about you.
Because any audience needs to trust you, to like you and to understand you, if that first impression is not a positive one, you’ll find it difficult to win them over.
And it doesn’t stop there – throughout your presentation, your audience is taking in far more about you than the words you use to deliver your message.
You can learn to be aware and in control of your own personal impact:
Cultivating an air of poise and confidence – even if you don’t feel it – will lend your message authority and gravitas. This will help to relax the audience, building their confidence in you, and you’ll find you start to feel the same way too.
Taking care over grooming and dress gives an instantly positive impression, suggesting self-discipline and attention to detail – and it’s only polite to be well turned-out.
Being aware of your expressions and body language, with a pleasant, welcoming smile and friendly eye contact will all help you to engage with them and set up a rapport. We like people who like us and those barriers will start to come down.
Paying attention to them, observing their body language and listening to their contributions helps to make them feel that they matter and that you respect them.
Developing a controlled, attractive voice, well paced, pitched and modulated with humour and warmth encourages people to listen because they want to, not because they must.
So if you want to present your grown-up, intelligent, committed and credible professional self to the world, it’s important to understand that it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it – and what you do and how you look while you’re saying it. PH
Related: How-to: Risk versus Appetite
Image credit: Stephanie smith human cannonball – melbourne show 2005 by fir0002 flagstaffotos.com.au on Wikimedia Commons.