Alienate or Captivate: You have 7 seconds to make a good impression

Guest post by Stephanie Scotti.

stopwatchWith only seven seconds to make a good first impression, your audience is like a finely calibrated radar detector. The moment they sense you’re not sincerely interested in making an emotional connection (and believe me, they will pick up on it) they will instantly disengage.

To avoid making a presentation faux pas, consider these 4 common behaviors.  Are they present when you take the stage? If so, you may be alienating your audience.

  • Looking or Sounding Bored.  Listeners know when you’re mindlessly delivering the message. It comes across as lifeless and boring.  If you aren’t interested in what you are saying, why should they be? You have to be fully engaged and “thinking-the-thought” if you want your audience to listen, be enthused and take action.
  • Spreading the “All about me” (AAM) Syndrome. This affliction manifests itself when a speaker disregards the interest and concerns of the audience. While the speaker might not be saying “me, me, me,” content that is irrelevant to the audience shouts it loud and clear. Remember, it is never about you; it is always about your audience.
  • Creating Information Overload.  Information overload happens when speakers attempt to share everything they know about a given subject rather than delivering what listeners need to know. As a result, presenters are like the Energizer Bunny®, they keep going…and going…and very little sticks with their overwhelmed audiences. Focus on what’s relevant and your audience will benefit.
  • Using Off-Color Language. Communication in general has become so casual; it’s easy to forget that four-letter words can be offensive. Recently, a client’s keynote included a joke with the words, “Holy crap!” During rehearsals, his colleague asked, “Is that appropriate language for an executive?” The answer is no. In this case, holy crap turned into holy cow!

Avoid these behaviors next time you step up to speak and your presentation will quickly go from alienate to captivate!

Stephanie Scotti is a strategic communication adviser specializing in high-stake presentations. She has more than 25 years of coaching experience and eight years teaching presentation skills for Duke University. She has provided presentation coaching to over 3,000 individuals in professional practices, Fortune 500 companies, high-level government officials and international business executives. Learn more at www.professionallyspeaking.netand www.professionallyspeakingblog.com.

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