Forbes magazine says that in just seven seconds, people will develop an impression of you. Good or bad. Seven seconds. Wow! This increases the importance of what you do and say during those first seven seconds of your speech or presentation. Your audience will decide if they will pay attention to you or travel into the far regions of their mind and imagination.

It could be to their next scheduled meeting, to the grocery store for toilet paper or to the arcade in their phone to play, you guessed it, Candy Crush! You don’t want them traveling anywhere, but where you choose to take them. Here are a few tips that will grab them by the collar.

1. Stand, stare and be silent. Stand with your feet solidly planted. Look from your left to the right, catching eye contact with your audience. The entire time, don’t say a word. Something about silence creates anticipation for your audience of what you are about to say.

2. Say Cheese. Did I tell you to smile? Smiles are like magnets that calm and draws in your audience. It shows confidence, and tells everyone we are going to have a great time. Include this with stand, stare and be silent, and you will make the right impression in seven seconds.

3. Grab’em by the collar with a question, stat or story. Ask a thought provoking question that will draw them in right away. “How do you feel when standing to make a presentation in front of a crowd?” You can also share a fact or stat. “Public speaking is always a top fear for most adults. Some say they’d rather die first!” Or you can open with a short story that ties into your topic. Questions, stats and stories immediately grabs the audience’s attention. Now they are traveling on the trip you booked, and not the one to Candy Crush Land.

If you stand, stare and be silent, say cheese, and grab’em by the collar with a question, stat or story in those first seven seconds, they will follow you anywhere.

Mark A. Skipper is the 2017 Toastmasters District 6 World Champion of Public Speaking and the founder of Speak Better Than Your CEO. You can reach him at

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