Presentation is everything. How you appear to the world is how the world will perceive you. According to Forbes.com, you have approximately 7 seconds to make a first impression, after that you will either improve or degrade that person’s image of you. Fear not! I have scoured the internet, and in the past 5 minutes, I have found 3 articles to help you become the President of Presentation Nation **insert audience booing here**.
First impressions are the time when you want your presentation skills to be the most sharper-est. Take the young gentleman shown above. Well dressed, neat hair, geek-chic glasses: this kid is going places. Research shows that when 300 adults were asked to make snap judgments about individuals, they judged them based on the cut of their jib (or more accurately the cut of their suits. Men with well-fitting suits were consistently seen as more confident, successful, and higher-earning (Mental Floss). A similar study showed that men with beards are sexier than men without beards. Men, keep your ladies away from lumberjacks.
In my high school speech class, my team was consistently ranked highest in the state. I believe a large reason for this was that our coach put a great deal of emphasis on first impressions. I once wore a white tie, which was fairly fashionable in 2013, and he said, “Don’t wear white ties anymore, you look like a gangster.” He was right because once I changed my shirt and tie I got consistent comments on my attire from judges. Never underestimate how shallow people can be.
So, you have mastered the power of first impressions by dressing in a clean cut and having a dope beard. What’s next? Now comes the hard part…you actually have to have something to say. 😲
The speech above is an example of a beautiful show filled with heart, showmanship, and poor geography; however, it has no message. The man above speaks of his dream to own a monkey, his beautiful wife (who refuses to leave his patriotic truck), the bad things going on in New Orleans, Mississippi, and none of it is tied together at all. Showmanship is fine, but you have to have a message.
Skills You Need recommends tailoring your speech to your audience. Make your message relevant to them, don’t talk about your dream to own a monkey. Jacqueline Whitmore, from Entrepreneur, recommends keeping it simple; moreover, keep it to only three points. If you can make three points, introduce them at the beginning, and reiterate them at the end, then your audience will be more likely to remember them.
One way to keep your project simple is to design a powerpoint that is restricted to 10 slides, 20 minutes, and size 30 font. Jacqueline Whitmore stole this from Guy Kawasaki of Apple and it is called the 10 – 20 – 30 rule. The 10 – 20 – 30 rule keeps your presentation short, succinct, and readable. If you choose to make a Prezi, like some junior high student 10 years ago, then don’t.
There is, quite literally, a whole internet of information out there that can teach you how to present well. A former boss of mine chose to participate in Toast Masters when she began working in America. Other than sounding, like a great toaster company, Toast Masters teaches professionals how to speak well in a business or formal setting. Ultimately speaking well comes down to one thing: practice. Presidents, CEOs, Pastors, and Actors all have one thing in common. They practice a lot. If you desire to speak well, be prepared to practice in front of a mirror, a wall, your friend, or your stuffed animals.