The Crucial First Five Seconds

Written by Pam Chambers

The Crucial First Five Seconds

Picture this: You’re sitting on your sofa watching TV, remote control in hand, looking for someone who will captivate you. How many seconds do you give each candidate before you zap them away? If you’re like most people, two to five seconds.

It’s the same when you give a presentation whether to one person, to a small group, or before a large audience. Within seconds your audience makes decisions about your credibility, trustworthiness, attractiveness, and social standing. Instead of making a bad impression and having to claw your way into position, start off on the right foot.

Dress the way they expect you to dress.

What is the dress code of your audience? Dress that way plus a notch above, to show that this event is important to you.

Show that you want to be there.

Your presentation starts the moment anyone you’ll be speaking to sets eyes on you. From that moment on, you need to convey that you’re eager, purposeful, and confident. People will observe you long before it’s your turn to speak (and long after you’ve stopped speaking).

Match your audiences energy.

Each group has its own energy — apathetic, mildly interested, eager. Accept where they are. You’ll create a bond that will allow you to move people toward your intended result.

If you are with an apathetic group, pose a few rhetorical questions, and watch for their ears to perk up. Then move to some hands-up questions. This will give you what you want — an involved audience.


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