Alienate or Captivate: You Have 7 Seconds to Make a Good Impression


With 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!

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2 Responses to Alienate or Captivate: You Have 7 Seconds to Make a Good Impression

  1. Thank you Penny for sharing your thoughts and reminding us best to prepare not despair!

  2. Penny Macphail says:

    Excellent points. Interesting too note how easy it is for perfectly sane, nicely spoken, genuinely audience focused speakers can fall down these rabbit holes when affected by nerves. Another reminder that nervousness needs to be tackled before the presentation starts …not once you are ‘in the swing of it’.

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