This is your time to shine! The moment has come for you to present, and whether you have an audience of 10 or 10,000, it’s normal to be nervous. It’s important to make a great first impression and set the tone for the entire presentation. So you’ll want to elevate every aspect of your presentation and nail it. Here are some tips to ensure your first impression is memorable (in a good way!).
Your appearance is the first thing your audience will notice about you, so dressing the part matters. This doesn’t mean that every person needs to wear a suit, however, when you do it does project confidence and authority. If you aren’t sure exactly what to wear think about who the audience is—what do they do? what is their age? what is their seniority level?
In addition to looking appropriate, you should also feel comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, it will show in how you present, so leave the tight necks and painful shoes at home.
When considering color and style, wear what flatters you and doesn’t take away from what you’re saying or presenting.
It’s not always what you are saying, it’s also what you are not saying, and that message comes from your body language.
Your posture gives an instant visual message to your audience and affects their perception of you. Refrain from folding your arms, which can be a sign of disconnection, or placing your hands on your hips which can give off a vibe of intimidation. Practice your presentation standing up straight in front of a mirror so you can see when your shoulders start to drop.
Good posture opens your airways so you are able to project your voice when you speak.
Check Your Gestures and Movements
Not sure what to do with your hands when speaking? That’s a common concern for presenters. You should just let them be natural. If you start thinking about it too much, you’ll overthink it and be distracted. You also don’t want to put your hands in your pockets. Research reveals people seem more trustworthy when others can see their hands.
When you want to emphasize something or draw attention to it, use hand gestures. It’s also a good idea to move around during presenting but don’t pace. Again, act naturally as you would talking to anyone.
Nervousness can make it harder to make eye contact, but it’s a significant part of a first impression. Consistent eye contact is interpreted by others as openness and trustworthiness. When you make eye contact with the audience, you’ll also be able to read their faces to see if they are engaged, bored, or confused.
Why not smile! You certainly don’t want to turn off an audience with a grumpy stare. When you smile, most people can’t help but smile back and engage with you. A smile means you are comfortable, confident, and genuine. You’ll come across as likable and approachable. Make sure your smile is genuine—if it’s not, the audience will know.
You truly only have one chance for a first impression. Make sure that yours is positive, and you’ll be off to a great start with your presentation. Try these tips next time you present.
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