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Updated: Feb 4, 2023

When people give feedback on a presentation, they will often describe the speaker in terms of their confidence level, their demeanor, and their ability to hold everyone’s attention. Content will be commented on as well, but perception of the content’s depth and value is heavily influenced by an overall impression of the speaker themselves.

Now you may think confidence is a feeling someone has on the inside and it exudes from them creating magic at the microphone. Let me assure you, there is nothing further from the truth. The appearance of ease and authority is created through concrete strategies implemented with forethought and purpose. Listed below are the most common but easily corrected blunders committed by ineffective speakers.

1. Turning their back when closing the door- This may seem like no big deal, but remember, this is the first time the room is seeing you. If the first thing you do is turn your back to them, you are sending the subtle message that you either have something to hide, or that you need a moment to compose yourself. In either case you have already reduced their confidence in you as an expert to be trusted and believed.

2. Looking at their feet or straight ahead as they walk to your podium or speaking position – If you do this, you miss your first opportunity to connect with your audience. You will seem hesitant, afraid, and disengaged. The walk to position should be thought of as a red-carpet entrance, filled with smiles nods, and eye contact. If you would like a visual reference, pay attention to how politicians enter and exit rooms, making each person feel seen and acknowledged.

3. Speaking before they are in place- It is very important to reach your mark, take a moment to sweep the audience with your eyes, smile and take a breath before you open your mouth to speak. This is a real power move and while you show a friendly warm exterior, you also make it clear that you deserve complete attention. That you will wait for that complete attention because what you have to say is important.

Each of these things is an important example of visual cueing; non-verbal signals that give the audience information regarding how to think and feel about the speaker. It is a vital opportunity to increase your ethos (inherent credibility); get it wrong and you will lose any ethos you walked in with simply because you are the presenter. For more information about how you can up your game, contact me for a free consult at

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