Trust Determined In Less Than a Minute

First Impression: Do I trust you

The British Psychological Society blog describes a study in which university students were asked to rate several character traits of a person after seeing their photo for just 100 milliseconds.

“The ratings they gave the faces correlated strongly with ratings given by other students who were allowed as long as they wanted to rate the faces. The strongest correlation was for trustworthiness. ‘Maybe as soon as a face is there, you know whether to trust it,’ the researchers surmised.”

“These findings suggest that minimal exposure to faces is sufficient for people to form trait impressions, and that additional exposure time can simply boost confidence in these impressions. That is, additional encounters with a person may only serve to justify quick, initial, on-line judgments”, the researchers said.

Why is this relevant to you?  As a presenter, you need to be aware that your trustworthiness is evaluated in less than a second.

If your audience does not trust you, the messenger, they typically do not respond positively to the message.

This is one of the reasons why I work with clients on projecting a more favorable first impression when we rehearse presentations.

While I coach each presenter differently based on what they uniquely project, here is one great way to start and make a good first impression:  after moving to the front of the presentation space to speak, make solid eye contact with a couple of  audience members while smiling genuinely.  It will put your audience at ease because when someone smiles at us and looks us in the eye, we typically open up and respond back with a smile.

Try this in your next presentation.