The First Ten Seconds

The first 10 seconds

Recent psychological research suggests that people take 1/10th of a second to form an opinion of us, based purely on appearance.1100-by-600-px-72-ppi-with-hinges-taken-out--IMG_8045

Like a lot of behavioural research, this may only apply to very specific circumstances.  However the fact remains that people judge us very quickly.  If you want to be a quality speaker a lot of work has to be done in the first few seconds.

When called onto the speaking platform, proceed as follows.

1 to 2 seconds 

  • Smile and walk on to the platform with your chin level, eyes forward and with a confident, self-assured but not cocky or arrogant stride.  You don’t want to look like you are marching, but avoid dropping your shoulders or slouching.
  • If there is a Chairperson or MC on stage, focus on them initially and ignore the audience.  Turning your head to the audience will look a little egotistical and disrespectful towards the chair.
  • If there is no Chairperson, nod your head gently towards the audience as you walk to centre stage.

3 to 4 seconds

  • Greet the Chairperson with a firm but not aggressive handshake, make eye contact but don’t force it.
  • Break the hand shake and allow the Chairperson to depart the stage.

(Obviously if no Chairperson is present you skip this bit.)

5 Seconds

  • Turn to audience, plant your fleet about shoulder width apart and gently, without being obvious, transfer your weight to the balls of your feet.
  • This will stop you from rocking or swaying.

6 to 9 Seconds

  • Keep smiling (make it a genuine smile and not a beauty pageant smile) make eye contact with several members of the audience in different parts of the room.
  • Don’t be in a rush to speak.  This quiet pause gives the audience time to check you out and decide that they like you.
  • If you have made the confident smiling walk to the centre, acknowledged the chair and let the audience see your smile they will almost certainly like you.

10 seconds

  • Make a fingers together, palms forward, open armed gesture and greet the audience with a clear confident voice.

Clearly you can’t time all of this exactly but work on the different stages and relative timing, especially the 4 second quiet pause, and most of your presentations will go really well.