How to be convincing in three minutes

Noëmie Mermet, neuroscientist and PhD student at l’Université d’Auvergne, won the last year’s edition of Ma thèse en 180 secondes. Here she gives her advice, based on neuroscience, to all the three minute speakers out there.

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1.     Give a strong first impression

If you show your passion and your involvement in the topic you would immediately grab the attention of the audience. Another trick is to focus on emotions and try to convey some of them to the audience or play with them.

2.     Mind your language

Using technical and highly scientific language bores your listeners. Avoid that and if you really need to use some scientific term, remember to explain it.

3.     Use non-verbal communication

Gestures, facial expressions etc. are very important, be careful to keep the appropriate distance between you and your listeners. You should figure out what’s the comfort distance. Each culture perceives differently the concepts of personal space and you should be aware of that.

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4.     Show emotions

If you for example are able to make your audience laugh, then they will remember for a long time.

5.     Brace yourselves, speech is coming

Preparation of the speech makes us more comfortable with it and thus more persuasive. One cannot be convincing if one feels uncomfortable. You need to identify your strong and weak points in order to uncover an area for improvement. Preparation of the speech helps you managing blackouts.

6.     Manage your blackouts (if they occur)

It is extremely important to know how to deal with blackouts. If you learnt your speech by heart, meaning that it becomes something automatic, blackouts aren’t that scary anymore, since you exactly know what to say in a given moment. Of course it depends on how well you can improvise also, but if don’t feel comfortable with improvisation, it’s better to prepare yourself as much as possible. 

7.     Boost your confidence

Confidence is extremely important – it makes us appear more convincing and persuasive. Here’s a description of power pose which will help you maintain the confidence:

Spread your arms and legs, or put your feet on the desk with the hands crossed behind your head. Now your testosterone level (“the hormone of power”) will be increasing while the stress hormone, the cortisol, will be decreased.

So before a presentation, go into the restroom and stay in powerpose during 3 minutes. You will feel like a champion!

 These seven pieces of advice represents a digest of speaking notes for the talk ”Be convincing in 3 minutes”, prepared for the EUPrio meeting in September 2015.  Ma thèse en 180 secondes is a Francophone sibling of the 3 Minute Thesis competition. When Noëmie Mermet won the finals in September last year, the title of her talk was “Implication des récepteurs 5-HT2A dans la modulation des interneurones PKC gamma dans un contexte d’allodynie”. 

About Nikola Adamus

I did my Master's degree in Internet and Game Studies, but now I live in Poland and teach people game design. I love reading about science and research. Apart from all science-related things, I'm a rugby player and miniature painter.
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