Whether you are trying to reach out to new customers or find an investor for your business idea, making a positive first impression is vital. Yet first impressions are tricky to manage. It takes only a few milliseconds for people to decide whether they wish to trust you or not. According to experiments run by Princeton psychologists J. Willis and A. Todorov, people form a first impression in a tenth of a second. When they spend more time in your company, they don't necessarily alter their first impression.
Yet, what counts toward a positive first impression? Willis and Todorov conducted separate experiments based on facial appearance. In other words, the research demonstrates that factors such as attractiveness could help you further to secure the outcome you desire. Unfortunately, the behavior is rooted within the human brain. However, the definition of which features make a face attractive varies greatly depending on individual experiences. Yet, another crucial factor affects your first impression, and it's the emotion you convey. Word choices and carefully studied body language come to mind. For instance, we all know to maintain an open posture to display confidence. Yet, your facial macro- and microexpressions hold more weight for your audience.
What are facial expressions of emotion? Essentially, macroexpressions have long been identified as an element of unspoken communication. They appear on your face for up to 4 seconds at a time and can express 7 universal emotions:
So how do you best keep your face "under control" when you meet your audience? Here's a secret: Preparation makes everything better. Here's why it matters to be prepared:
Be confident about your message
There is no secret. If you are going to pitch an idea in front of an audience, the first and most important thing you need to do is practice your pitch. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Indeed, practicing enables you to memorize the key steps in your pitch. The last thing you want is to stand up in front of an audience with a blank mind and no idea of what to say next. Additionally, practicing helps you make your message sound more natural. Your audience wants to feel that you are speaking to them rather than reciting a text.
In terms of facial expressions, it will help you keep fear away because you can steady your nerves. Instead, you are more likely to look happy with your pitch.
Prevent mistakes and mishaps
Picture the scene: You're in the middle of your presentation. Suddenly the laptop packs up, and the screen goes dark. Your face is likely to show a mixture of surprise and fear. Technical mishaps can happen to anybody. However, being able to handle them in front of an audience is not easy. When you start panicking, you are more likely to make mistakes during your presentation. Besides, it also shows your audience that you can't manage unexpected problems, which can leave a bad impression. So, if you want to avoid bad surprises, it's a good idea to keep your laptop updated and safe. Installing the latest updates is a no-brainer as it can provide essential security patches. Additionally, understanding how to screen for viruses and remove them before they do any damage by following the setapp.com guideline can help on the big day.
Prepare for difficult questions
Let's be honest: People are always going to ask unpleasant questions. There's a reason for it. They seek reassurance. They want to make sure they choose the best solution, whether you are pitching to customers or investors. The real question your audience is asking is: Why should I pick you over others? As a result, they try to poke holes into your presentation to figure out whether it is water-tight. Preparing for uncomfortable questions and comments is all about helping your audience trust you. When you are prepared and already have an answer for them, your face is less likely to display surprise and anger.
Direct the conversation
Every pitch or presentation has a specific flow. It is important to stay in the driving seat at all times. What are the typical flow disruptors?
Control the reactions
The best way to get the reaction you want is to tell people how to react. Calls to action are important to conclude your pitch. You can prepare them, so you're ready to capture lead contacts and provide a plan for the next steps. If you are not prepared, your audience may not know how to react. As a result, you may find the pitch frustrating and disappointing, which will show on your face as anger and sadness.
Are your facial expressions on point to make a positive impression? Pitching in front of an audience requires preparation. Make sure to use the preparation time to exult confidence and satisfaction!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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