Every day in your work you present information for the purpose of influencing decisions. A great presentation creates a connection, builds rapport, underscores trust and closes deals. A poor presentation divides, bores people, and worse yet closes the door on future opportunity. Use these tips to be a vital influencer.
1. What’s the one big point?
Answer this question before you craft your presentations: “What do I want them to do, think or change when they leave here?” Everything centers on that.
2. Set an intention to connect with their emotions
Open with something they can relate to – that one thing everyone wants, does, needs, wants to stop doing or wants to change. Get them nodding their heads and thinking, “Yes, I can relate to that because I’ve been there too.” Know exactly how you want them to feel.
3. Your catchphrase is king
Lace one memorable theme throughout your presentation. This will reinforce what behavior you want your audience to adopt when they leave. I often repeat the use of “The Pause Café” in my presentations on High Stakes Conflict Resolution because if people can pause in a tense situation and breathe they will make clearer decisions.
4. Be a storyteller
Think of the difference between a movie and a PowerPoint presentation. Would you rather sit through a slide show on Italian-American culture in the 1940s or watch The Godfather? Both have a sense of history and values. You will remember the story far longer. Use emotion and compelling characters.
5. Strike a power pose before you begin
Harvard Business School research shows that holding your body in an upright shoulders-back high-power pose for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss). Therefore, the Power Pose leads to increased feelings of power and a greater tolerance for risk. Move over fear of speaking.
6. Warm up your voice
While in the Power Pose, stretch your voice. Read a random chapter of a book or anything out loud. Randomly change your volume, pitch, pace and emotion. Have fun with this.
7. Be present. Be powerful.
This means deep breathe or meditate before you begin to bring your focus back on WHO YOU ARE not what you have to say. Focus on how you’ve been moved by what you are sharing not how the audience will judge you. Speak with meaning. Pause when necessary. Allow yourself to be you in the presentation not what you think they want. They want you to be successful. For that you need to feel authentically powerful. In that state you will trust yourself. If you feel powerless you won’t trust yourself and you won’t connect. Be powerful because of who you are not what you have to say.
8. Have a conversation
You are not there to tell or sell. They will connect better with you and trust you when you are interested in them. From that connection action follows. You might open with, “If I were to ask you what one thing would make this presentation amazing what would that be?” It draws them to your presentation and gives you their leading ‘pain’ or ‘gain.’ This also helps to ward off stage fright.
9. Lighten the mood
Make them smile. Their entire demeanor will open up. They will be more receptive. But not everyone is a natural comedian. That’s ok. Some of the best laughs come from pointing out human behavior that doesn’t make sense – especially things we do ourselves that others most likely do too.
Adopting these behaviors gives you focus to deliver mindfully, being present for yourself and to the reactions of your audience so you can notice if your one big point is sealing the deal.
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and corporate CEO who helps busy leaders get off the treadmill to nowhere to be more effective, earn more, be more calm and enjoy connected relationships with the people who matter while it still matters. Watch her FREE Master Class training on Three Things to Transform Your Life and Career Right Now at www.MaryLeeGannon.com.