How Your Unconscious Mind Betrays You – and What You Can Do about It

Back in the cave person era, by all accounts, we evolved this exquisite mechanism, the fight or flight response, to handle brief, intense moments of danger, when we needed to be on high alert and face the world ready to fight or get the heck outta there. We’re not even consciously aware of this mechanism, [...]

Don’t Let Your Audiences Be Passive!

People don’t like to be passive.  They don’t like to sit still and do nothing.  They’d even rather shock themselves repeatedly than just sit and think, according to a study recently published in Science. The study received a fair amount of press attention, possibly because it harkened back to the infamous Milgram study from many [...]

Speakers: Your Vowels Matter!

I’ll be giving away some speechwriting secrets today.  In particular, how to create a mood with your words.  It’s not just about meaning.  Or even body language. A team of psychologists and phoneticists based in Germany has tested the effects that vowel sounds have on our moods.  And it turns out that “I” sounds (“hi”) [...]

Speakers Alert: Here’s One More Reason to Exercise

Speakers need to understand how the brain works because, well, because they’re always talking to brains in the audiences they encounter.  At least, that’s the hope. Some recent studies shed light on an essential part of the way the brain works.  The findings have two implications for speakers – one for themselves, and one for [...]

What Voice Should You Use?

A recent study out of the University of British Columbia found that we have a few strong preferences when it comes to voices:  we like voices similar to our own, we like men to use shorter words and women to use longer ones, and we like big, resonant voices – especially in men.  No one [...]

Do First Impressions Matter?

How much do first impressions matter?  A great deal, as it turns out.  When we say first impressions matter, we don’t know the half of it.  We’re hard-wired to want the answers to a few vital questions based on those first impressions – such as, is this person that has just come into my field [...]

Eye Contact And Public Speaking — It’s Not What You Think

The invention and wide use of eye tracking technology in psychological studies means we can finally re-visit that old chestnut that absolutely everyone has heard of about speaking:  make eye contact. And apparently it’s time to re-think that old rule. A recent study, not surprisingly, perhaps, shows that it’s not as simple as just, “Make [...]

Seven Ways to Enchant an Audience

How can you go beyond the usual efforts to create a successful presentation – and enchant the audience?  What are the secrets to creating magic with a speech?  Here are seven ways to take your speech beyond the ordinary.  Some of these will be familiar to you, but I’m guessing that at least one will [...]

How to Deal with Stress: More Tips for Speakers

In a blog post last week, I discussed a recent study that showed that we leak our stress levels to other people.  As I pointed out, if stress is contagious and we leak our emotions, then speakers need to concern themselves with their emotional states before and during their speeches.  A stressed-out speaker will induce [...]

Should You Approach Your Audience When Giving a Talk – Or Walk Away?

A recent research result was reported in the media as indicating that there may be something called “approach aversion” that people instinctively have toward people and objects coming toward them.  My first reaction, when I read this, was really?  Cake?  Ice Cream?  If only I had approach aversion to those delicious items my dietary problems [...]