Presenting to a new audience can be a little nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing. You obviously want to make a good first impression and come across as both competent and likeable. That said, turning on the charm doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Each time you encounter a new audience, a new impression of you is formed. These first impressions can be difficult to reverse, so you only have one chance to get it right. Consider the following tips for powerfully connecting with your audience and nailing that first impression.
Dress the Part
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” so think of your appearance as the picture. Think about how you would like the audience to perceive you and dress accordingly. Do you want to look professional in front of a room filled with CEOs? Do you want to be perceived as confident with a bit of authority? Are you trying to look casual and approachable to a room of your peers? Consider the demographics of your audience including age, the type of business they are in, and their level of seniority. This will help you determine what look would best suit your audience.
When you are presenting to a new audience, they have no idea who you are or what you have to offer. You’re a stranger to them, just as they are to you. That’s why it’s so important to introduce yourself and let them know a little bit about you. This goes beyond simply stating your name and what you do for a living. Go beyond the basics by sharing a personal story or experience. This gives the audience more insight into your background and helps them connect with you as both a speaker and a person.
It seems simple enough but a smile goes a very long way in making a good first impression. A warm and confident smile puts both you and your audience at ease and helps you appeal genuine and sincere. People like to be around other people who are joyful and a smile is a great way to demonstrate that you are comfortable and happy to be there.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Believe it or not, your body language is just as important as the words you speak. You can build a strong rapport with your audience through things like eye contact and facial expressions. You can convey confidence and credibility by the way you stand and the way you move your hands. Your body language contributes to the audience’s perception of you so you should make it a point to use positive body language.
Put the Audience First
If you really want to connect with your audience, you need to understand why your topic is important to them. You don’t want your presentation to just be focused on what you want to convey, but you also want to consider what’s in it for them. Why should they care? How can they benefit from the information? Why does your topic matter to them? It’s vital to understand what is motivating your audience so you can tailor your message to meet those needs.