Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez,

As a professional storyteller and speaker for over 25 years, I’ve successfully presented to thousands of people. I’ve learned that whether your material’s a business presentation or a performance, the essential framework of what works remains consistent. You make an exceptional impact when you create a connection with your audience.

Perhaps, you’re not a polished presenter. You may experience dread or fear at the thought of speaking in front of a group of people. But what if there were secrets to eliminating that dread? What if creating a positive impact on your listeners is a simple process based on neuroscience that you can learn?

In this series of four articles, I share some powerful insights and information to help you be a successful speaker.

A Perfect Presentation

“Effectiveness is what happens when you balance efficiency with resilience.”

Elisabet Sahtouris

Culturally, our concept of perfection is to be without error. Merriam-Webster offers this as their top definition: “being entirely without fault or defect.” This meaning is rigid and clear-cut and speaks to an emphasis on efficiency and conformity, two qualities that–generally speaking–don’t encourage a positive social connection.

Google, while listing “free from any flaw” as its second offering, places this more well-rounded and more generous definition first:

“having all the required or desired elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

This definition embodies the concept of effectiveness leaving room for resilience, spontaneity, and interactivity.

A perfect presentation engages, inspires, and activates your listeners. Enabling you–the speaker–to create a dynamic connection with your listeners. It’s a blend of art and science rooted in evolutionary biology.

An exceptional impact’s achieved when you’re grounded in a thorough fluency in your material–balanced by an ability to be agile in your delivery–and you prioritize your listener’s experience over your own content.

Of course, your content’s important. It’s the reason why you’re presenting in the first place. But what’s more crucial is the reception of your ideas by your audience–since it’s how you’ll create the change or results you wish to see.

When your audience knows that you’re putting them first, they’ll be more open to engaging with you, and most importantly, with your content. A perfect presentation is both the instrument to create, as well as the result of a positive, effective connection.

The Science of Making An Impact

“Communication is the transfer of emotion. Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic or whatever else you are.) If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the meeting and send in a report.”

Seth Godin, Really Bad Powerpoint,

How do you know that you’ve made an impact on someone? What are the signs that tell you they’ve experienced a shift in their world view or understanding? Your ability to influence the actions of another is only as strong as the connection you share with them.

The person walking toward you who crashes into you while texting makes an impact on you. Another person who stops to help you pick up the books and papers that slipped out of your arms makes an impact on you. The person walking on the other side of the street that you don’t see makes no impact on you at all.

To make an exceptional impact requires a multi-sensory connection. A positive connection strengthens your ability to influence others and make your vision a reality. In order to achieve this, you need to understand your biology and your brain.

Read More

The Roots of Connection (Part Two)

Brain Syncing & Mirror Neurons (Part Three)

Oxytocin Effect (Part Four)

About Zette

Zette Harbour is an iPEC certified life and leadership coach, and an award-winning professional storyteller, who helps women get free from what’s not working in order to live the life their hearts desire.

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Then read more of her column, Successful Awakenings and explore the limitless power of awakening to the brilliant and beautiful story of who you truly are.

Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez,