If you are asked to address a group of people at work, it’s important to understand how an audience receives and retains information. When you stand to the audience’s left – the right side of the stage – your information will have a stronger effect on the right brain hemisphere of your audience’s brain, which is the emotional side in most people. Standing to the audience’s right – the left side of stage – impacts the audience’s left brain hemisphere. This is why an audience will laugh more and laugh longer when you use humour and stand to the left side of the stage, and why they respond better to emotional pleas and stories when you deliver them from the right side of the stage. Comedians have known this for decades – make them laugh from the left and cry from the right. Use this strategy in your business presentations and you’ll be sure to get on the right side of your audience.

Here’s our top five pointers for powerful presentations:

  1. Never tell the audience you feel anxious or over-awed, they’ll start looking for nervous body language and will be sure to find it. They’ll never suspect you’re nervous unless you tell them.
  2. Use confidence gestures as you speak, even if you’re feeling terrified. Use steeple gestures, open and closed palm positions and keep your arms unfolded.
  3. Avoid negative gestures, such as pointing at the audience, arm-crossing, feet-crossing, face-touching and lectern gripping.
  4. Be expressive but don’t overdo it. Keep your fingers closed when you gesture, and your hands below chin level.
  5. Look animated. Make sure your facial expressions mirror what you’re saying. People are more likely to believe you and engage with you if your face tells the same story as your words. Take care not to go overboard.