For a more successful presentation, implement these handy
>Present an image that aligns
with your personal brand. A
coat and tie might be perfect, or
it could be a perfect disaster. Be
aware of your audience’s expectations.
>Shoe clue. People walk different paths in
life and their footprints can be just as telling
as their destination. Sneakers or boat shoes?
Stilettos or flip-flops? Men don’t seem to
notice, but women can tell a lot about people
by their shoes. Ask a female friend what she
thinks of yours.
>Don’t stand behind a podium or table
when you speak. Podiums are associated with
judges, attorneys and deceptive leaders. Use
a table as a stage-left tool, or back it up four
feet and use it to gently lean on it when telling
a short humorous story.
>Remember when Mom said, “It’s not polite
to point”? She’s right. We tend to trust people
less who point at us. Keep that in mind the
next time you raise a finger.
>If you want people to rate your presentation
more favorably, use a soft blue feedback form.
When right-handed people look to the right, the
brain’s left hemisphere, which generally calculates,
tracks and stores information, is activated. When
individuals look to their left, the right hemisphere is
activated, triggering autobiographical and emotional
memories, which are mostly negative.
My research, supported by similar studies, including one on dual-brain psychology by Frederick
Schiffer, M.D., revealed that when you stand to the
right of a right-handed person, he will like you significantly more than if you were on his left. The effect
can be experienced in a booth at a restaurant, at a
baseball game and on a stage. Thus, presentations are
given from stage left, so most of the audience is looking to the right, most of the time.
Keep up Appearances
Your audience is constantly looking at you and processing nonverbal cues. While it isn’t politically correct, people will ascribe characteristics to you and
judge you based on your appearance. That’s just the
way our brains work.
Gestures should be natural to the extent they fit
the context. There are plenty of speakers who have
wild gestures and, because of their brand and presentation, they work. Certainly, there are moments
when a monster-sized gesture is appropriate during
a three-hour presentation. Just remember to use it in
moderation, and stay aligned with body movements
that will help you gain trust and admiration from the
As a rule, if you want to appear in control, keep
your hands in the imaginary box that runs between
the shoulders, above the waist and below the neck.
Keep your hands away from your face. Nothing good
can happen when you touch yourself above your neck
or below your waist.
Finally, you’ve heard all the experts talk about
crossing your arms and legs. When you notice your
audience members crossing and uncrossing their
legs, it’s likely they need a restroom break or a good
stretch. If they’re crossing their arms, it may indicate
the room temperature is a bit chilly. Warm ’em up so
they can concentrate comfortably on your content!
Kevin Hogan, Psy.D., is the author of
19 books, including the international best-seller, The Psychology of Persuasion. Visit
www.kevinhogan.com to learn more about
persuasion and nonverbal communication.