The 5-second Rule of Presentations

conference-room-768441_1280Your presentation starts in just a few minutes. The audience begins trickling into the conference room. As they settle, a sub-concious process starts. Your presentation is already being judged based on what they see, your body language and their own past experiences (they have not even seen your content yet)!

There are many questions buzzing in their heads, like:

  • Is this going to be interesting?
  • Do I even need to be here?
  • When does it end?

And, all of this takes less than 5 seconds. Managing this and “passing the initial assessment” is extremely critical to make an impactful and engaging presentation. A negative initial assessment will linger on and plague the rest of your presentation, even if you have terrific content. Capitalise on the “5 second rule” and ensure that your audience is enthralled right from the point they step into the conference room.

Greet your audience. Human relationships more important than business transactions. So, make it a priority to welcome your audience and create a personal connection. Exchange your business card and have a short chat, if time allows. Thank them for coming. It will go a long way!

handshake-733239_1280Body Language. Did you know that 55% of our communication is non-verbal? A firm handshake symbolises confidence and will establish your authority. Give direct eye contact and don’t forget to smile. Be genuine. These are important signals to your audience.

Remember names. Knowing the names of your audience is a basic if you want to create a personal relationship. Have you ever been on an airline where the crew addresses you by name? Doesn’t it feel good? Do the same to your audience. A best practice, that I use myself, is to create a seating chart. This is a useful reference sheet, to remind you of all the names.

Be Prepared. You can invest time in greeting your audience only if your presentation is ready and all the wiring is in place. So, make sure you prepare well in advance, check and re-check that everything works. Make a list of things that you need to do. Your audience will appreciate that you are organised and well prepared.

Set the mood. How do you want your audience to react when they walk into the room? What should they see, smell and hear? Maybe you want to play a specific kind of music. Choose something that is relevant and fits into the strategic objective of the presentation. Think of a creative teaser that generates curiosity and discussion. I love doing this and have witnessed how it uplifts the mood.

The first 5 seconds are critical in your presentation. It’s not about your content but the theatrics you can create to get your audience in a positive state of mind. Intrigue them by being creative, give them personal attention and be well prepared.

Take a few risks and have fun.

Happy Presenting.


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