Great Beginnings and Strong Endings

  • Itai Cohen
  • Melanie Dreyer-Lude


First impressions make a difference. The way you begin your research talk can prime the audience positively or negatively for everything that follows. Daniel Kahneman identifies this phenomenon as the halo effect (2011). The halo effect happens when the first impression in an experience colors the way you view everything that happens thereafter. If you begin your research talk well, the audience will be predisposed to listen and enjoy what you have to say. If you begin poorly, you may lose them long before you reveal the most important information. How long do you have to make a positive first impression? One study suggests that you have between 5 and 15 min to impress someone (Frieder, Van Iddekinge, & Raymark, 2016). Another expert states that you have only 2 min before your audience has decided for you or against you (Reynolds, 2012). Meyers and Nix reduce the workable time frame for accomplishing this goal to seven seconds (2011). The exact timing will depend on the context of your presentation, the scheduled length of your talk, and how famous you are. Regardless, all experts agree that a good beginning is critical to a successful presentation. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your audience will listen to you just because you are speaking to them (Meyers & Nix, 2011). You have to earn their attention. You need to captivate their interest. The first words you say and the first thing you do in your research talk are critically important to creating your storytelling hook. You need to immediately engage the audience’s attention and create high stakes for your talk, so that those who are watching will want to lean forward to hear the next thing you have to say (Meyers & Nix, 2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Itai Cohen
    • 1
  • Melanie Dreyer-Lude
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of DramaUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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