As much as you might prep and plan, speaking in front of a group of people
can be daunting.
You not only have to captivate your audience's attention, but you must also
come off powerful, polished and precise. Here are proven methods to get
your executive swagger on the next time you have to enter and hold a room:
The grand entrance
Entering a room for the first time is crucial to setting the tone for how
your audience will perceive you and then listen (or not listen) to you.
Before entering, run a mental checklist:
1. Be bold. Many people walk into a room timidly, not
wanting to appear presumptuous or self-important. No one likes arrogance,
but an air of confidence reassures people that their time won't be wasted.
Walk in with pep in your step. You're supposed to be there; act
2. Hold your breath. Expand your lungs, and hold for a
bit; then exhale upon saying hello or introducing yourself. This is an old
stage trick that many use but few discuss. Upon exhaling, you draw blood to
your face, giving a lively, confident appearance.
3. Don't slouch. Show confidence by walking in with your
back straight and your chin up. Try not to stick your chest out too much,
or it will look like you're posturing. Maintain your natural, correct
posture, and you'll add inches to your height and elevate your presence.
4. Do your homework. Do reconnaissance on the room in
which you'll be speaking. Familiarity puts our mind at ease. If you can't
check out your surroundings beforehand, try this: One expert says moving a
few things around on a table or desk upon entering the room will tell your
brain you have control over your surroundings.
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The big show
You've made it to the stage or meeting room without any miscues. Now it's
time to dial up your presentation skills to engage your audience. Before
you open your mouth, run a mental checklist:
1. Make eye contact. This is vital to creating a
connection with people. Be engaging, but not overbearing. Don't stare at
anyone; you'll just creep them out. Look into their eyes, occasionally
glancing slightly to the sides. Divide your audience into sections,
establishing eye contact with people in one area for a few seconds and then
moving on to the next. Moderation is the key: Never breaking eye contact
can be just as awkward as not making it at all.
2. Check your tone.
Proper inflection is a must. Also,
vary your pace to keep your audience engaged. Here is a great tip I saw
Practice using rhythmic builds.
This is when you repeat the same words, in the same place, in three
different sentences. For instance: "We have to strive for excellence in
execution. We have to strive for excellence in service. We have to
strive for excellence in profitability."
Done correctly, your sound patterns will rise in intensity, making your
presentation resonate while conveying your passion and power.
3. Mind your gestures. Gestures should relate to the
message and not distract the audience. Be aware of your hands at all times;
most people focus on them from the beginning. Keep your gestures within the
physical width of your body; you're creating a visual image of your
concept, not hailing a taxi.
4. Avoid verbal tics.
Similarly, wandering about will cause you to lose your audience, so
generally stay within a 3-foot radius. Your body language is crucial to
establishing a strong executive presence.
These include filler words, phrases
and syllables, such as "um," "like" and "you know," as well as "up talk" at
the end of a sentence, making your statements sound more like questions.
Other phrases to avoid are "at the end of the day," "to be honest," "in my
opinion" and "with all due respect." Other tips to remember:
- Keep your ideas short, simple and clear. Less is more.
- When others have the floor, be present by actively listening and
staying off your mobile devices. People are watching the behavior you are
- When asking questions, keep them short, on topic and oriented
toward "what" and "how," rather than "why," and toward the future or
present, rather than the past.
5. Be confident not arrogant. When you seem arrogant,
you're probably overcompensating for some insecurity; others might read it
as overbearing. To engage your audience, focus on them. People want to feel
loved, appreciated, important. We're drawn to those who show an interest in
us. People are like mirrors. When we shine a light on a person, they
reflect that light on us. If we shine a light on every person in the room,
we end up being the brightest one there.
executive and personal coach.
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