Have you ever gone to a networking event because you felt you “should”? Perhaps the speaker’s topic wasn’t high on your list, or maybe getting to the venue required an hour of sitting in traffic. You might have even felt obligated to make an appearance, to competitively keep your brand front and center. If you’re human (and honest), I bet you can relate.
So, despite your reservations, you take a deep breath, leave your biases behind, put on your best face and arrive at the event with business cards in hand and your 30-second elevator speech. You meet and mingle, take a seat and get ready to listen to yet one more business presentation, you hope won’t bore you.
The speaker begins. You watch and listen with professional politeness. And then, without knowing when or how, something changes! You feel a shift in your attitude and attention. You are now really present, really “there,” really listening and really interested!
This recently happened to me. Though ambivalent about attending and only minimally interested in the speaker’s topic, within minutes of her speaking, I was totally hooked!
How did this happen? What went “right”?
The speaker engaged the audience from the start. In this case, she began with a subject-relevant, interactive “quiz.” It was verbal and pictorial and “just right” in terms of timing and delivery. A creative opening is must for immediately gaining credibility and capturing your listeners’ attention.
Technology and Memory Failure
The speaker was confident and composed despite technical and memory glitches. When she could not access her slides, she did not over-apologize for the 10-second delay that might have felt like an unbearable ten minutes! Instead, she stayed calm and silent as she trouble-shot the problem. Later, when she could not recall a specific technical term, she allowed silence to help her retrieve the word “on the tip of her tongue.” This not only supported her credibility, it influenced the audience to be silently supportive, present and patient.
Ownership, Engagement and Dialogue
Because she owned her message and knew her topic so well, the speaker was able to receive and respond to audience questions at any time and point in her presentation. She also was able to seamlessly resume her talk without faltering or losing her place. The speaker made the audience’s questions as important as her agenda and knew the organizational flow of her topic.
Physical Behavior and Body Language
The speaker demonstrated exemplary body language. Stance and posture were strong, vocal projection and dynamics pleasing, gestures authentically-appropriate and eye contact individually connecting. The speaker’s clothing was professional and well-suited. There were no distracting mannerisms to steal the audience’s attention.
The Invisibles and Inner Self
The speaker’s presence was immediately palpable. Her confidence and inner essence, in this case, her humility, passion and intellect were transparent. Audiences inherently understand vulnerability and value authenticity.
Was this a “perfect” presentation? No. Was it an engaging, informative, and creative presentation? Most definitely!
And that, my friends, can be enough!