1) Avoid the podium. Let’s say you’re the 5th presenter at a meeting, and the first four stand behind the podium. As you walk up to speak, that podium will have a strong gravitational pull.
Resist. Your audience wants to see you; the more they see, the better. Get large.
2) Move. I recently watched a senior executive speak for 20 minutes without moving an inch.
He looked frozen, as if the room were filled with wild animals, about to attack. That’s the “Oh, no, I’m talking to an audience of grizzly bears!” look.
That’s not a good look.
So move, and when you do, be decisive. Is it time to begin? Then walk to the front of the room and begin. Don’t hesitate.
But don’t pace; alternate movement with stillness. Be still when you’re making a key point.
3) When you get a question, step forward, towards the audience.
That beats stepping back (which looks like a retreat), or running around the room in circles (which looks intriguing, but strange).
4) Keep your hands in front of your body, out of your pockets, and away from your hair and face.
Touching your hair and face are known as “grooming gestures.” You probably touch your face about 16 times/hour—without being aware of it (UC Berkeley School of Public Health).
Nothing terrible will happen if you touch your face—it certainly beats touching someone else’s face. But it detracts from your presence.
5) Gesture. Gestures come in three sizes—small, medium, large.
If you were seated at a table, a small gesture would be pointing towards the water pitcher. Medium would be reaching to get it. Large would be knocking it over with enough force to send it flying across the room.
Not to boast, but I’m extremely skilled at the latter.
6) Look at individuals. Avoid looking at everyone, without seeing anyone in particular. Look until you see the color of someone’s eyes (about 3-5 secs). But avoid staring.
“How are you doing over there?” your eyes say. You’re checking in.
If you think of your audience as a “they,” you’ll be out-numbered. Instead, see individuals. There is no “they.”
7) Speak louder. Speak as though the room were twice as large, and you wanted to be heard—all the way in the back. Speak as though you had a voice of thunder.
Speak as though your message mattered.
P.S. LET’S PRACTICE—SIGN UP TODAY for two Boston workshops:
1, (½ day workshop) The Power of Presence: Maximize Your Personal Impact, March 30
2. (2 day workshop—limited to 7 people) Dynamic Speaking: Get Heard, Get Remembered, Get Results, May 4-5.
To sign up, or for more info: email email@example.com: “Sign me up!” is sufficient. Or call 508-879-0934 for more details.
P.P.S. Rather just read a book?
You’ve Got 8 Seconds: Communication Secrets for a Distracted World, named one of the best biz books of the year by an obscure, but obviously brilliant, Canadian newspaper. Available in print, kindle, audio.
“Both practical and funny, it’s a great read for anyone who wants to
have more impact at work. Hellman has mastered the art of
communication, and he lets you in on the secrets. Highly recommended.”
—Tim Saeger, Executive Vice President and Chief R&D Officer, iRobot
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PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful.
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