Congratulations. That big presentation is over. But wait, you’re not finished yet. As you walk away from the speaking area, be wary of a common trap. Many salespeople and speakers assume that people only watch them while they deliver the presentation. The truth is that an audience is evaluating you long before you begin, and still doing so after you conclude.
You will be scrutinised.
People have built-in B-S detectors (colloquial for ‘nonsense-sensing apparatus’). We are always looking for small clues that tell us more about the nature and intentions of others. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the few minutes during which you are being introduced, and in the few seconds after you sit down.
When you’re being introduced, you may want to fidget with your jacket, straighten your tie, rub your hands together nervously or cough. But don’t forget: People are watching you. As you are being introduced, their internal monitors are picking up on every movement you make.
After you sit down, they are still monitoring you for integrity. For at least thirty seconds after your talk, you are still being observed.
Be aware that you are on show all the time.
Keep your fidgeting to a minimum while being introduced, or while setting up your presentation, and walk cleanly and confidently to the speaking area, whether it’s the front of a boardroom, or a stage. You might even smile at someone on the way up, to help set your own nerves at ease.
Wait for silence before you begin.
In that time, stand up straight, be sure not to fidget and survey the audience with a relaxed smile. Their internal monitors are getting to know you, and that’s good. Allow them a couple of seconds to establish their thoughts.
After you’ve finished speaking, walk smartly back to your chair, sit down and place your hands neatly in your lap or on the table before you. Have you ever seen someone blow wind through their cheeks – ‘Phew!’ – when they’ve just finished a difficult task? Or drop their head into their hands and shake it from side to side as if to say, ‘That was terrible. I’m so disappointed in myself!’?
What if you bomb out?
Even if the presentation was an absolute disaster, don’t show that you feel that way. Avoid giving visual clues – resting your head in your hands, shaking your head, frowning, or rolling your eyes. Even if you are a little upset, this is not the time to show it.
Movements like that will undermine your message, and make people feel that the ‘real’ you doesn’t agree with what the ‘on-stage’ you has just said. Remember, you are always on show, so give a complete performance.