Beware of the negative space

Updated: Jun 25

[Note: This article was originally published as a File in the Present Like a Pro group on Facebook. Join the group for ongoing presentation tips.] Artists often use a concept called “negative space” to get you to focus your attention in a certain way.

Have another look at the above graphic. Do you see the lower half of two facial silhouettes or a white vase against a black background?


Negative bias in the art world is usually harmless enough, but negative bias when presenting can be devastating.


If you're a speaker or presenter, it's important to understand a cognitive bias called "The Negative Effect," a psychological construct that gets you to dwell on the less than positive aspects of your presentation.


Negativity bias is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things. Examples include:

  • Unpleasant thoughts

  • Negative emotions

  • “People won't like me"

  • Ugly social interactions

  • "I'll never close this deal"

  • Harmful or traumatic occurrences


This kind of doomsday thinking can erode your confidence and tank your presentation ability.


One can learn "back-spin" techniques, but a person often needs to work super hard to over- write learned emotions and negative imprinting.


I show students in the online Present Like a Pro course how to overcome almost any negativity bias and am happy to at least get you started in a free consult.



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