Grabbing your audience

For many business executives, especially in the financial sector, one of the greatest fears in meetings or presentations is being...

For many business executives, especially in the financial sector, one of the greatest fears in meetings or presentations is being ‘over the top’. “If I’m too animated and enthusiastic it’ll sound insincere,” they’ll say.

Yet, in coaching and training sessions I find myself almost always pushing clients to go further. “Show more enthusiasm. Be more exaggerated”, I’ll say. The reason? If your default in a meeting or presentation is closed body language, hardly any eye contact and a monotonous voice, these add up to a lack of commitment to your message. And a lack of confidence.
On the receiving end of this, even the brightest people will find it a challenge to keep listening to you. Eventually their mind will wander somewhere more interesting, or they may take over the initiative with a string of polite questions aimed at bringing the meeting to a close as quickly as possible.
The problem is that we all have to sit through dull presentations because we need the information. So we put up with it and accept it as fact of business life. Whereas, if you can get a reputation as a strong presenter, you start to have enormous influence.
And how do you do this? The task is to grab their attention and keep them listening. You can only do that if you are animated, but of course to a level that’s appropriate for the situation. And it must be truthful; a false enthusiasm won’t convince anyone. As a guide line, your voice should be clear and strong, you should breathe before each sentence, you should make eye contact, have a relaxed, centred energy and use positive body language. Put all those together and you send out signals of confidence, commitment and effortless authority. That’s why training in these behavioural skills can bring such value. It’s not just what you say, but very much how you say it that keeps them engaged. And if they’re engaged, you’re more likely to get the result you want.

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