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How to Engage Audiences with Your Mirror Neurons

Body language helps significantly when delivering your message.

It doesn’t matter whether you have an interesting topic to tackle, an engaging PowerPoint deck to display, or a captivating story to tell. How you communicate nonverbally affects the entire performance.

Most people don’t see how observing others influences our actions. This is where the magic of mirror neurons takes place.

What is a Mirror Neuron?

A mirror neuron is a type of neuron that allows people to empathize with others’ conditions. This happens when someone observes another person, thus mirroring his behavior. If we notice a stranger who bumps into a concrete wall, our brain is wired to empathize and experience the same feeling the stranger does.

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When someone feels down, we tend to sympathize with the person involved, letting our brains respond with comfort.

We might be unaware of this kind of response, but for presenters, this is an effective technique to use when getting your message across.

What Makes it Effective?

Moving towards the audience doesn’t just help you physically interact with them. It also allows you to engage them using eye contact, facial expressions, movements, and gestures. In this case, you are more likely to convince your audience by reflecting some of their reactions.

This is useful when you want to connect with a large crowd. You might not be able to achieve it, but connecting with them without going near them physically is possible. Selecting a few members of your audience to engage, particularly those who are in front, will help you do this by activating their mirror neurons.

If one of your audiences look at another member, his brain tends to react the same as if you’re talking to him as well.

How Can You Apply This?

This technique can be used to create interest, focusing their attention on your performance. E-learning expert, Vicki Kunkel cites in her book Dr. Wayne Dyer, a well-known speaker and author, who is an expert at applying this technique to his performances.

Every time Dwyer presents, he’s able to make his audiences feel part of a story. He does it by describing the event itself and projecting body movements, showing people how it made him feel. Another way he manages this is by walking around in one part of the stage while tackling a subject.

When he changes or moves on to another topic, he transfers to a different area. This is to emphasize what he’s discussing and to make it easier for his audiences to follow the discussion.

Summing It Up

Master this technique to connect with your audience’s emotions, keeping them engaged and allowing them to fully understand your message. Take advantage of mirror neurons to influence your listeners’ reactions for a convincing pitch they can’t refuse.

To help you with your presentation needs, SlideGenius experts can offer you a free quote!

 

Reference

Kunkel, Vicki. Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success. New York: AMACOM, 2008.

 

Featured Image: Wikimedia

Psychological Biases: Anchor Effects in Sales Presentations

Effective marketing makes a business achieve its salad days. Everything must be aligned accordingly—from the market research, to strategy, and objectives—to obtain favorable results.

All segments pass through the decision-making process, providing marketers better opportunities in the industry.

Here’s how decision making is discussed in the psychological context, and how it can be used to make effective sales presentations.

The Psychology of Decision Making

In psychology, decisions are shaped by individual preferences and behavioral characteristics, which can lead to significant biases. Commonly referred to as cognitive or psychological biases, these are tendencies to draw judgements in an illogical fashion, affecting the overall decision-making process.

A few common biases are anchoring, bandwagon, loss aversion, overconfidence, and confirmation effect. Hubspot’s Emma Snider wrote about the benefits these cognitive biases serve in sales. As a takeaway for this post, we’ll be focusing on selling with the anchoring bias.

Defining the ‘Anchoring’ Effect

You will inevitably have to weigh and compare options when making decisions. We tend to assess probabilities and take actions based on firsthand information. When presented with a new product, we create quick comparisons to something we’ve previously used. This is the anchoring effect.

The bias surfaces when one makes a judgement around the “anchor” or the basis for the decision.

How to Make Anchors Your Ally

You can never escape from hasty judgements, but you can always control them. Think of it as a “first impression” bias. There’s a big chance that your audience members might be hesitant to buy your product due to customer loyalty issues.

According to marketing psychology consultant Magda Kay, avoiding anchoring may be inevitable. These biases are often triggered unconsciously in the client’s mind. However, Kay also suggests that instead of fighting the bias, it’s better to suggest the bias to your prospects.

Highlight your product’s audience benefits at the very beginning of your presentation, followed by its special features. They may think of something to compare with you, but these positive associations will draw an equally positive image of you. This strategy directs your potential customers back to you despite the initial comparison, reinforcing your business in their minds, generating more leads, and increasing sales.

Also make your presentation more engaging by making use of convincing body language. Own the stage you’re in by occasionally moving around and interacting with your audience. A stiff and uninspired delivery may have good content, but unless it connects with your viewers in any way, then people might not listen.

Let Anchors Steer Your Audiences Right

However logical we all think we may be, we all have our biases. Psychological biases influence poor decision making and negative judgements, leading to missed opportunities.

Use the anchoring effect to your advantage to set a positive tone in the overall selling and buying process. Craft your presentation around it correctly, and you’ll steer your audiences in the right direction.

 

References

Kay, Magda. “How to Use Cognitive Biases for Effective Marketing.Psychology for Marketers. n.d. Accessed August 3, 2015.
Snider, Emma. “How to Use Psychological Biases to Sell Better and Faster.” Hubspot Blogs. January 31, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2015.

3 Small Talk Habits That Delay Professional Presentations

Don’t boring scenes make you want to press fast-forward?

If you’re bad at entertaining your audience, then they’ll want to fast-forward your professional presentations, too.

But what makes a scene boring?

There are many reasons for a dull presentation, but one of the most notorious is because the presenter is trying to cover up a lack of preparation.

Here are 3 delaying tactics you should avoid:

1. Overdoing Background Information

Introductions are where you engage audiences so that they’ll listen to you from start to finish.

However, taking too long to get to your main point will bore them to death.

Avoid including too much background information in your script.

Anecdotes are a great way to start a pitch, but make sure it’s directly related to your core idea, or else you’ll just go off-track.

Instead, go straight to your main points point and work on particular details that best inform and educate the crowd.

2. Stating the Obvious

Everybody knows that the Earth is round and the sky is blue.

Why tell your audiences information that they probably already know?

If you’ll be mentioning well-known facts, make sure that you have follow-up questions or points for discussion.

For instance, look for the reasons behind the fact, concrete examples that demonstrate that data, or ways how you could take advantage of it.

Otherwise, skip that piece of information altogether.

3. Delaying the Solution

Your audience is there for a reason: they’re looking for something beneficial that you can give them.

If you fail to deliver, then you’ve failed your audience.

Build-up is important, but spending too much time hyping up your offering could cause your audience to doze off from boredom.

Worse, they may get annoyed and think that your pitch was a waste of time.

Caring about your audience involves giving them what they expect from you. Offer something that makes them think that they’re your priority. Don’t give them the opposite of what they’re looking for.

Get Straight to the Point

Why would you end up delaying your presentation in the first place?

Often, this is a result of not preparing for the big day.

Careful planning allows you to craft and organize your script. It helps you recognize what is valuable to your audience.

When you plan for your next presentation, instead of talking about how significant your topic is, make sure to go straight to delivering your main point.

Remember: avoid including too much background information, stating the obvious, and delaying the solution.

Avoiding these delaying tactics is your ticket to the fast-lane of engaging, convincing, and sales-worthy presentations.

References

Burns, Tony. “Does Your Audience Want to Fast-Forward You?Speaking About Presenting, August 6, 2014. Accessed July 1, 2015.

PowerPoint Best Practices for Keeping Audience Attention

There is no such thing as an attention span. There is only the quality of what you are viewing.  This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.” – Jerry Seinfeld

The primary goal in delivering a presentation is to get the core message across. Then, hopefully, your audience will respond accordingly (consider your pitch, make a purchase, apply what they’ve learn from you, etc.). Your call to action, however, is only as effective as your efforts to capture and maintain audience attention for the entire presentation.

We can’t say if we totally agree with Jerry Seinfeld’s view on the existence of attention span. On the average, Internet videos are viewed for only 2.7 minutes before the user moves on to another video or website. With that, it isn’t hard to imagine what the stats are in terms of live presentations that offer no “stop” or “next” button for you to click.

He has a point, however, when it comes to what holds the audience’s attention – the quality of what they are viewing. So, to ensure the quality of your presentation, below are some PowerPoint best practices that you may want to keep in mind:

One message, one slide

Accept the fact that not all people can retain chunks of new, unrelated information at a time. So avoid overstuffing your presentation. To let your audience see your key points at a glance, each slide should have one very short sentence that stands out.

If an audience member was only able to pay attention to those sentences, he or she will still go home with an understanding of your key points.

Writing one message per slide also allows you to keep track of your overall narrative easily. This is because every slide gives you a logical summary of each point you’re trying to make.

Show more, tell less

Studies have proven that many of us are visual learners. This means that there are people who retain information better when it is displayed in front of them, as opposed to simply hearing it.

One of the most important PowerPoint best practices to remember is to choose relevant images and insert them appropriately in your slides. With appropriately, we mean not adding photos or graphics just for the heck of it.

Make sure that the images are relevant, support your points, and do not clutter a slide’s layout.

Essentials in, surplus out

Most award-winning PowerPoint designs have one thing in common – simplicity. Their designers had the good sense to know which items to omit and which ones to include.

This is important because for one thing, it keeps your slides from being too cluttered. This practice also gives you the opportunity to display your expertise on your subject by talking about it in as spontaneous manner as possible – not by merely reading about it from the slides. Having your entire message displayed on the slides won’t exactly add to your credibility or to the success of your presentation.

Your PowerPoint should provide you with support. Remember, it’s a tool, and you are the messenger (not the other way around).

 

References

Visual Teaching Alliance. Accessed June 16, 2014.
Attention Span Statistics.” Statistic Brain. Accessed June 16, 2014.
Steinberg, Brian. “Questions For… Jerry Seinfeld.” WSJ. Accessed June 16, 2014.

You Might Be Guilty of These Presentation Mistakes

Sitting through a bad presentation is as exciting as watching a documentary about sloths moving in slow motion.

So unless your intention is to put your audience to sleep, you may want to check if you are guilty of these presentation mistakes:

Lack of Preparation

There’s more to committing this mistake than making you look like a bumbling professor. When your audience notices that you are ill-prepared, it’s likely that they will put your credibility into question. This is important as people are keen on listening to what a speaker has to say if they know he is credible.

Besides, you owe it to your audience to research your topic and organize your materials. It’s the professional thing to do since they took the time to listen to you. Whether it will take five minutes or five hours, communication trainer Bill Rosenthal suggests that you prepare for your presentation thoroughly. Being prepared will help not only in holding your audience’s attention but also in answering questions that may come after.

Uninteresting Slides

There are a number of ways for presentation slides to fail in engaging audience attention. The most common ones are the use of boring visuals and too much text. Visuals can help enhance your presentation so make the most of them. Just make sure that they support your points.

Use images that look eye-catching but not too off-putting that they detract from your message. If you need to use tables or graphs, simplify them by including only the essential elements. Problems also arise when the slides are too wordy. This usually happens when the speaker crams all his points into the slide deck so he won’t forget anything.

You may want to remember that your slides are not your cue cards or teleprompter. Try to keep everything simple. Don’t fill up your slides with too much information, most of which are probably in your handouts anyway. Take some time to look at your slides and determine the unimportant details to remove.

Failure to Connect with the Audience

Strictly sticking to your talking points is a sure way to bore your audience to death. To get your message across, you should know how to connect with them and break the ice. This means you need to be a bit spontaneous. Liven up your presentation by sprinkling it with short anecdotes, pop culture references, or funny quotes.

Try to limit your use of humor, though. What you consider funny may be viewed as offensive by another person. To get an idea on what will work on your audience, consider their age, gender, professional background and other relevant details. Know the ranks or positions of the people who are going to attend. You should also be aware of any cultural expectations or religious conventions that apply to your audience.

In short, plan your presentation from your audience’s perspective. Often, the best way to excel in something is not to remember what to do, but to be aware of what not to do. So let these three mistakes serve as a reminder whenever you are putting together a presentation.

 

References

100 Pop-Culture Things That Make You a Millennial.Vulture. September 24, 2013. Accessed April 21, 2014.
Rosenthal, Bill. “The Only Way To Prepare To Give A Presentation.Forbes. June 19, 2013. Accessed April 21, 2014.
Presentation Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Establish Your Credibility.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed April 21, 2014.