TED Talks — The official TED guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson

#3 Earn your audience’s trust by making eye contact and showing your vulnerability.

No two audiences are the same, and you’ll never give the same talk twice. However, there are a few powerful techniques that’ll help you with just about every public speech.

One is to get personal, and here’s why it’s essential.

First of all, humans have evolved to protect their minds from knowledge that could challenge their perceptions of the world. As a result, people are often wary about opening their minds to ideas presented by strangers.

Say you drink loads of coffee. You simply can’t get enough of the stuff. But your university biology professor is always preaching about how coffee causes cancer. Would you willingly give up your drug of choice?

Probably not. Like most people, you’d be skeptical. In other words, you’d do what all people do: defend your worldviews by mistrusting any information that challenges them.

So, as a speaker you’ve got to disarm your audience to make them receptive to your message; this is where getting personal comes in.

Making eye contact and showing vulnerability can go a long way toward opening people’s minds.

Suppose you’re a trustworthy person who has based their talk on facts. Most people will be able to determine this by simply watching your eyes. So, making eye contact with your audience will let them see that they can trust you.

But making yourself vulnerable is also important for creating trust. For example, say you’re a cowboy walking into a busy saloon. If you want to show the clientele that you’re not about to shoot the place up, you’ve got to make it clear that you’re not armed. Upon realizing you’re a friend, not a foe, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

The same goes for your audience: if you “disarm” yourself by showing that you’re vulnerable, they will let down their guard. While you might be scared to show how nervous you are — for instance, by blushing — signs like this can actually be beneficial as they demonstrate your vulnerability without any effort!

But this isn’t all you’ll need to nail it. Next up on your agenda are minding your manners and explaining yourself.

Source: Blinkist app.