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7 Presentation Tips to Mesmerize Your Audience From the Start

7 Presentation Tips to Mesmerize Your Audience From the Start

When giving a presentation, you want to immediately capture the audience’s attention in order to ensure they hang on every word you say. You probably know how important it is to show your audience something rather than beat them over the head with your explanation, but there are many ways you can go about doing this. Use the following tips to “wow” your audience, and make what you have to say truly understood by everyone in the room.

1. Tell a story

Start your speech off with an anecdote that relates to your presentation’s overall theme. It can be a personal narrative, or a story relating to a famous individual. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s meaning is blatantly obvious by the end of it. Once you finish relaying the story, quickly transition into the “meat” of your speech. For example, if your presentation revolves around the idea that it’s never too late to do something great, you might choose to talk about author Frank McCourt, who penned the Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes in his mid-60s. Telling a story before diving into your point makes what you have to say much more tangible to the audience.

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2. Ask a rhetorical question

A rhetorical question is a question posed not to be answered straight out, but to be used to further the speaker’s point or idea. Lawyers often use rhetoric during their opening and closing arguments in order to sway the jury’s perspective on a certain issue. Rhetorical questions often do not have one correct answer, especially until more information is gleaned about the situation. One such example is the question, “Is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?” Since there are many facets to the question, in order to answer it succinctly the audience must hear more about the situation at hand. By opening with a rhetorical question, a speaker ensures the audience will listen for more information as he continues his presentation.

3. State a shocking statistic or headline

The evening news thrives on shock value to keep its audience tuned in and on the hook for the entire hour. “A child was rushed to the hospital after ingesting this common product that you probably have in your cabinet right now. Stay tuned to find out more.” Regardless of what other news is discussed for the next hour, you will be glued to the TV waiting to see what could have been so deadly (and it’ll turn out to be rat poison, or another painfully obvious product). While I wouldn’t condone keeping your audience on the hook through trickery, if the statistic you use directly connects to your overall theme, it’s a great way to get them to listen.

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4. Use a powerful quote

Quoting a well-known world leader, philosopher, or activist is incredibly effective in getting your audience to care about what you have to say. After all, if a well-respected individual in history took the time to discuss or debate the topic, it must be important. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and in turn many civil rights activists have used King’s words in their own fights for equality. When using the words of another, you should work to extrapolate on their ideas and ideals, and use rhetoric to further your cause. When you use the famous words of a popular historical figure, you ensure your audience knows just how important your presentation will be.

5. Show a photograph

It’s definitely cliche, but a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s not a single warm-blooded person in this world who wouldn’t be moved to tears upon viewing the infamous picture of Phan Thi Kim Phuc running naked down the street in Vietnam after a US napalm strike. That single image conjures up memories of Vietnam War-era America, from the protests to the thousands and thousands of deaths, to the atrocious way our veterans were treated upon their return. And the message it sends is loud and clear: War destroys lives. The perfect photograph for a presentation sets the stage for the remainder of the speech, and portrays to the audience just how passionate the speaker is about what he has to say.

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6. Use a visual aid

At the risk of sounding redundant, a visual aid is useful in that it helps the audience physically see what the speaker is saying. Visual aids are most productive when discussing statistics in some way, so the numbers can actually be seen on a graph. They can also help make numbers and statistics come alive, rather than simply being read aloud. For example, when giving a speech on the dangers of tobacco, you might choose to show a visual aid which uses stick figures to represent each cigarette-related death over the course of a year (though for that, you might want to use a computer screen in order to fit every figure onto one screen). Hearing that six million people die every year from tobacco-related illnesses might sound like a lot, but actually scrolling through six million tiny images will make that number really come alive for your audience.

7. Play a video

I’m thinking of the videos I saw when taking a defensive driving course. As a teenager with a new license, all I wanted to do was get in the car and drive. Of course, I’d known of the horrors of driving recklessly, but talking about them and actually seeing them are two different things. By actually showing a video of a potentially deadly car crash before discussing how and why it happened, the presenters were able to drive (sorry) their point home clearly and effectively. And I’m absolutely positive we all buckled up the second we got in our cars to drive home that night.

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Featured photo credit: Martin Luther King, Jr., giving a speech, while George Meany, also at the speakers’ table, listens/Kheel Center via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 16, 2020

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

5. Crack a smile.

If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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7. Groom yourself.

This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

8. Dress nicely.

Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

9. Do activities you enjoy.

Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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Why?

Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

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