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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

The SPICE Formula of Sensational Speaking

C Is For Confident Delivery

In 2008, Hilke Plassman, associate professor of marketing at INSEAD Business School near Paris, conducted an experiment on wine connoisseurs whereby he placed false price tags on bottles of the same Cabernet Sauvignon. In this blind taste test, some of the bottles of wine appeared to be priced at $10, while other bottles were listed at $90. Volunteers, who were unaware of the experiment, proceeded to give a considerably higher rating to the $90 bottles of wine than to the $10 bottles, even though they both contained the exact same wine.

But, it doesnít stop there. During a functional MRI scan, Plassman discovered there was a difference in the neural activity deep within the brain when the volunteers drank the wine. Not only did the ďcheaperĒ wine taste cheaper to the volunteers, the pricier wine generated increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that responds to pleasurable experiences.

So what does this have to do with public speaking? Everything!

Fairly or not, your audience is going to pass an initial judgment on you the second you walk onto that stage, and this initial judgment of you will reflect on the posture with which you take to that stage. If you present yourself as a $90 bottle of fine wine, youíll be perceived as such by your audience. If you present yourself as a $10 bottle of cheap table wine, well, I think you get the point.

Youíve probably been told that even though you may feel self-conscious and nervous when you give a speech, your audience canít always tell youíre nervous unless you give it away somehow. Thatís generally the case, and, unless you make it obvious to them, your audience will not usually detect your nervousness. However, what they can always detect is a healthy sense of confidence. Your audience can detect it, and they like it, even at the neurological level.

One student in my training program was very shy and timid when she spoke before an audience, but she was not nearly as shy when speaking one-on-one in normal conversation. She told me she felt that it was improper to appear too confident while speaking in public because she felt her audience would perceive her as being conceited. The problem was that her audience had a difficult time accepting her as a trusted source because she appeared to have little confidence in herself and in her message.

Conceit and confidence are not the same thing. Conceit is a strange disease; it makes everyone sick except the one who has it. When I talk about confidence, Iím not talking about an over-inflated, ďI am the greatestĒ ego, Iím talking about a healthy self-image and a solid belief in your message and your ability to deliver it. So the question is, how does one build that level of confidence? Well, there are three ways you can position yourself to help you gain the confidence you need as a public speaker. The three ways to position yourself are: As an expert, as a reporter and as a philosopher. Each of these positions is covered by the next three points, respectively.

So, whatís the lesson? The exact same wine can taste different if itís presented in a $90 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle of wine.

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