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Gestures and Credibility
You are a more credible speaker when your words, facial expressions and gestures align. Gestures are remarkably authentic – when you relax. If you don’t force movement or constrain your body, your hands and arms will appropriately illustrate concepts you describe. Trust that. Pretend you are talking to people you know – even if you are gazing at two hundred unfamiliar faces. Watch the Three-Minute Thesis presentation by first place winner Dustin Chernick to see what aligned gestures look like.
Grab Attention with a Great Opening
The Three Minute Thesis is a condensed version of the five slide approach we recommend in Championing Science. Graduate student contestants aren’t describing science to decision makers, but their examples teach us how to stick to the highest level of explanation and provide context for understanding why the science matters. Watch Jenna Butler demonstrate the power of opening with an iconic analogy and getting her listeners to care by sharing the very personal motivation for pursuing her research.
The Perils of Jargon
Alan Alda is at the forefront of helping scientists become better communicators through his work at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stoneybrook University. In the first three minutes of this video Alda explains why scientists should avoid using jargon. We agree. One of our 11 tenets of Championing Science is to be understandable. Unless you are with people who have the same detailed knowledge of the meaning of your words, jargon will become a barrier to effective communication.
The Best Way to Start a Presentation
Too many speakers miss the opportunity to grab attention the minute they start a presentation. Instead they typically thank their sponsor and dive right in to the topic of the presentation with limited fanfare – Today I will be talking to you about my research on artificial intelligence and cancer treatment. Ho hum. Figuring out what to say to spark interest in your topic and get listeners to care should not be left to chance. Find out how you can get every talk off to a better start by creating a great opening line.
Establishing Trust As You Speak
It’s the first time you have been in front of an important decision maker or an audience of potential partners. What can you do to start to build credibility and trust? Plenty! The way you walk, stand and make eye contact can contribute to whether you are viewed as trustworthy. Carefully considering what you say about your topic and how to demonstrate you have a track record can help you make a strong first impression.
Using Eye Contact to Connect
Want to escape from the overwhelm that comes when you take the stage and look out at a sea of unfamiliar faces? Learn how to make conversational eye contact. This straightforward technique mimics what it is like to talk with one person at a time. By looking directly at someone in your audience for several seconds as you say a sentence or two, you engage your listeners. Find out why it pays to master this approach.
Five Principles of the Art of Influence
that increase your changes of getting people to say Yes!
LISTEN LIKE A MOUSE
Ask questions that nibble around the edges of your topic to understand the context for the decision.
Listen for insights about what the decision maker likely thinks and feels about your topic.
RECRUIT YOUR CHEERLEADERS
Identify the decision maker’s trusted advisors and respected supporters. Preview your proposal with these potential cheerleaders and enlist help.
STEER CLEAR OF THE UNDERTOW
Don’t let your emotions color your tone or approach, keep a poker face.
Focus on the value of your proposal and why you chose to pursue this decision maker.
DON’T DEFEND YOUR THESIS
Teach, don’t defend. Show, don’t tell.
Use stories to reinforce your message and help decision makers see the value as you see it.
BRING THE BLUE APRON BOX
Put yourself in the decision makers shoes.
Bring ALL the information needed to make it easy to decide. Don’t expect people to remember prior conversations and exchanges.