Every day you present information for the purpose of influencing decisions. A great presentation creates connection, builds rapport, underscores trust and closes deals. A poor presentation divides, bores people and, worse yet, closes the door on future opportunity.
Use the following nine tips to be a vital influencer:
1. What’s the one big point? Answer this before you craft your presentations: “What do I want them to do, think or change when they leave?” Everything centers on that.
2. Intentionally 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 and thinking, “Yes, I’ve been there.” 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.
4. Be a storyteller. Think of the difference between a movie and PowerPoint presentation. Would you rather sit through a slideshow on Italian-American culture in the 1940s or watch “The Godfather”? Both have a sense of history and values, but you 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) and lower levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension and memory loss).
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 by reading out loud. Randomly change your volume, pitch, pace and emotion. Have fun with this.
7. Be present. Be powerful. 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 and allow yourself to be you. Your audience wants you to be successful. If you feel powerless, you won’t trust yourself and you won’t connect.
8. Have a conversation. You are not there to tell or sell. Audiences connect better and trust you when you are interested in them — from that connection, action follows.
9. Lighten the mood. Make them smile and they will be more receptive. Not everyone is a natural comedian, and that’s OK. Some of the best laughs come from pointing out human behavior that doesn’t make sense.
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 the president of StartingOverNow.com — a consulting firm that helps people get off the treadmill to nowhere and enter the corner office. Mary Lee is an award-winning mindful executive strategist, certified coach and author. She has 20-plus years experience as a CEO leading organizations worth up to $26 million within 60,000 employee organizations, as well as coaching executives on mindful leadership.