PREACHING & Great Presenters Do One Thing That Most of You Don’t, Science Says

by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 1/18/16.

…What if I told you that the thing you spend the most time on when preparing for your big presentation might actually be the thing that influences your audience the least? That’s exactly what a landmark study by Albert Mehrabian, UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychology, found.

Mehrabian found that there are three elements of communication that influence an audience:


This is not how cool your power point slides are (although that matters, too). What Mehrabian was referring to here were key things like eye contact, body movement, and gestures. In other words, these are the things that the audience sees you do with your eyes, your hands, your arms, and your entire body…


This is all about your voice. The three key areas that are most important are your rate, volume, and inflection. A rate that is too fast makes you seem “junior”, lack of inflection makes you look dispassionate, and lack of volume leaves you sounding less confident.


This is simply about content. In this study, Verbal refers to the actual words you are saying. In preparing a presentation, most of us spend a significant amount of time, if not the majority, on Verbal. It makes sense, right? You can’t make a good presentation without good content.

Here is where the research gets really interesting in a way that just might change your approach:

From the study, Verbal accounted for only 7% of what influenced the audience. That left a whopping 93% of audience influence based on Visual and Vocal. Specifically, the study showed that 55% of audience influence was based on Visual and 38% was based on Vocal…

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