The secret metric of a really great presentation


After you're done speaking, count the number of seconds before someone says something. The more impactful you are, the longer it will take.

If they speak the very second you finish, that means they weren't really with you, they were waiting for you to finish, their minds were already on what they were going to say next.

If it takes them 5 to 20 seconds before they speak, it means what you said had a profound impact and they’re absorbed in it.  It's taking them a little time to gather their thoughts.  

This is high praise for you.

The longer it takes, the more impactful your presentation. I've seen it take up to 5 minutes. And the audience still didn't know what to say. They were so moved.

What do you have to do to create this effect?

Many people think it has to do with WHAT you're talking about. It really doesn't.  I don’t know how many thousands of presentations I’ve seen over my decades as a presentation coach.  I’ve seen presentations on just about every topic you can imagine, most of them corporate.

I've had people tell me, This is a boring topic or This is an exciting topic.

There's really no such thing. I've seen seemingly boring topics made riveting and I've seen exciting topics made dull.

I've seen immovable audiences greatly moved. 

It has nothing to do with your status, your experience, or your topic. 

It has very little to do with what you say. 

It’s all purely about you.

It has to do with your ability to make a deep human connection with the people listening to you and to deliver your communication with great clarity and intention.

I had a student who worked in a semiconductor factory who gave new employee orientation training sessions.  In his “before” video, which was only 2 minutes long, he bored the audience out of their minds.

At the end of the workshop he gave the same presentation for his final video.  It was on fire extinguishers.  When he was done, the audience couldn't speak, and when they did, they asked me could he continue and tell them more?  Everyone was sorry it was over.

What he was talking about didn't change. How he connected with the audience and how he delivered it did.

He wasn’t more passionate. He was more connected

Big difference.

It has more to do with your heart than your mind.

One of my clients recently sent me a video of one of their senior leaders giving a talk at an industry conference for my feedback. Watching it, I saw a senior leader who did not stand out from the crowd. He looks like every other corporate senior leader giving a presentation. Interesting for the first couple minutes, then time for the mind to wander. This is what I saw:

  • He comes across as totally sincere and very brilliant, but weak

  • He has tremendous untapped charisma that doesn’t emerge during his talk – you can tell it’s there within him, but it doesn’t come out

  • He’d benefit greatly by learning how to make a deep connection with the audience vs how he is now, coming across disengaged – once he makes this deep connection, the audience will be totally blown away by him

  • He communicates very powerful ideas, but they bounce off rather than impinge – his message doesn’t penetrate as profoundly as it should

In point of fact, his presentation wasn’t nearly as interesting as the one on fire extinguishers. 

This senior leader, like so many others, has tremendous potential to win the hearts and minds of his audience once he learns this most basic of lessons:

  • You have to make a deep human connection. You’ll never do that with WHAT you say. It’s not about how passionate you are. It has to do with your ability to penetrate all the artificial barriers inherent in corporate presentations and to connect to other human beings.

Connect means to unite

People spend WAY too much time practicing WHAT to say. They don't spend any time practicing how to make a deep human connection.

But once you master that, you can talk about anything.

And when you're done, you'll count many seconds of silence, each of which is more potent than applause. 

Try it. Experience the magic you’re capable of creating.