Speaking or Presenting? Make sure you cover off these 3R’s in the first 5 Minutes

When you are speaking or presenting, have you ever thought how people show up?  Have you ever wondered what has happened to them just before they walked into the room?  They might have had a crappy phone call with a customer; they might have had the peak hour traffic from hell, or a disagreement with their boss, partner or kids or worst of all… they might have run out of time to get a coffee!

You have no control how people in your audience are going to show up,  so even though you had nothing to do with it… some people might be sitting in your audience in a bad mood before you even get started.  Then you get introduced, they see you and bam – they might unconsciously anchor that bad mood with your presence.  And if you don’t take measures to counteract that, you are finished before you even get started.

As soon as you walk out on stage your audience is making judgements about you that could be tainted with what sort of day they are having.  I know – how unfair is that!   And they’ll keep this up for as long as it takes for you to tell them what they should actually be thinking about you.

The longer you take to tell them, the longer they are using their imagination.  Even if the stuff they are making up in their mind about you is complete crap, the problem is… they think it’s true!  And the more they make up about you, the harder it’s going to be for you to undo it.

Therefore, the first 5 minutes of your presentation is crucial.

So what’s the solution then?  

Simply get your audience to laugh.

When your audience laugh in the first 5 minutes of your presentation you cover off the 3 R’s of a good intro or what I like to call “The Missed-Coffee Counterattack”.  Your intro needs to do three things for the audience so that you can be most effective.

Step 1 – Relax

If your audience has an opportunity to laugh and interact with you in the first 5 minutes of your presentation, they can relax because they won’t be feeling like they’re going to be stuck in a ‘hostage situation’ for the next 60-90 minutes.  

Step 2 – Reset

In her book “A Better Brain at Any Age”, author Sondra Kornblatt talks about the new field of Gelotology that’s exploring the many benefits of laughter. Did you know laughter:

  • lowers blood pressure as it increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood
  • reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
  • releases muscle tension by giving a mild workout to the diaphragm, abdominal, facial, leg and back muscles.

So laughter has the ability to release negative emotions, like aggression, fear or anger and it relaxes muscles, which helps reduce stress and tension in your body.

Medical research also shows that whenever we laugh we release a wave of feel-good chemicals through the body including the endorphin hormone that also gets released during exercise. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-relaxant – they stimulate feelings of well-being and release a “high”.

By getting your audience laughing it’s making a scientifically proven positive impact on their mind and body so it’s like pressing the reset button on their day. (And possibly more importantly – their opinion of you!)

Step 3 – Ready to Go

The other really cool thing about laughing is that it does amazing things to your brain. Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that less than a half-second after exposure to something funny, an electrical wave moves through the higher brain functions of the cerebral cortex.  The left hemisphere analyses the words and structures of the joke; the right hemisphere “gets” the joke; the visual sensory area of the occipital lobe creates images; the motor sections make you smile or laugh and the limbic (emotional) system makes you happier.

If you haven’t had enough coffee today and have no idea what I just said, basically when you laugh it’s like a firework going off in your brain as every part of your brain is firing at the same time.  The brain is then at the optimal state for understanding, learning and memory retention.  Laughter will get your audience ready to go as their brain will be primed to understand things quicker and remember them longer.

So in conclusion, just by getting a few laughs from the audience in the first 5 minutes of your presentation, you are helping to reduce their stress levels, increase their endorphins, and get their brain in a peak state for learning, understanding and memory retention.

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