“The new Treasury secretary read from the teleprompter on his right. Then on his left. He hardly stood still or looked at his audience for more than a few moments…. Whether Geithner can handle the gargantuan task of bailing out a troubled government bailout…. couldn’t be answered in a single solo performance. But he could have helped by a showing that looked more sure-footed, square-shouldered and said: I can handle this. I know what I do.”
Laurie Kellman, Associated Press, The Arizona Republic, February 11, 2009
Despite the fact that people, pretending to be educated, often quote Albert Mahrabian communications research saying that “55% of the meaning of communication is body language, 38% is in tonality, and 7% rests in the words themselves” (when what he really said was that when words and tone don’t match, listeners rely on body language to determine meaning, not that body language is so disproportionately important), the new United States Treasury secretary has shown how important body language is.
Carrying yourself confidently, appearing in control and presenting the message in assured manner can make or break your message. Here are simple tips for presenting more persuasively and powerfully:
1. Shoulders back, smile on, head up.
2. Look at your audience with love and respect.
3. Walk tall.
4. Stand and deliver. My nervous energy keeps me moving throughout the presentation. I try to move forward to the audience and make my point, than move in another direction, again stopping to make a point. Look at attendees (not at your feet) as you walk.
5. No pacing. No back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.
6. Practice with the teleprompter. Each teleprompter operator is different. Practice. It is not as easy as it looks to look like you aren’t reading.
7. Make eye contact. Don’t stare but linger long enough to connect with another person.
8. When you’re behind a lectern, try to avoid a death grip.
9. Don’t lean forward into the microphone, adjust the microphone to you.
10. Dress with respect. Help your listeners feel comfortable with you.
And here are a few verbal tips that might help:
11. Practice sounding confident. Think about which words need emphasis and pause. If all the words are said in the same tone and at the same pace, nothing seems important – or confident. Highlight your notes so that you can easily linger over an important word or saying it with added emphasis.
12. It’s a conversation not a lesson (even if it is a lesson). Talk with people not down to them.
Honor your audience. It’s about them – not about the message you want to convey.What you don’t say, speaks loudly. Invite your listeners to enjoy their experience with you – and buy in – to your message.