Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Finding Your Maximum Delivery Zone

I recently attended two days at the AGC Partners (formerly America’s Growth Capital) 8th annual Emerging Growth and Digital Media Conference in San Francisco. Over 300 private and public companies made presentations to 1200 attendees. Running concurrently, industry leaders appeared on panels discussing everything from current trends in technology financing to “Unlocking the Women’s Demographic.”

I have known the two dynamic and highly likeable founding partners for over 20 years, having trained some of their clients on how to be more effective in telling their company story and speaking persuasively to investors.

Although I have coached hundreds of presenters, I never tire of hearing an interesting company story or being intrigued by a creative use of graphics to illustrate it. But this time, at some point during Day Two of the conference, I had an epiphany; it was actually something I already knew, but this time it was more definitive.

What separated the “okay” presentations from the outstanding ones were not their stories or slides; rather, it was their passion for telling it. With only 15 minutes to connect with an audience, you need courage to get into what I call a “maximum delivery zone.” Those who did were extremely persuasive. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yes and no: it’s definitely not a slam dunk, or I wouldn’t have a business.

For many the secret sauce is within them but hidden: in fact, literally buried under business deadlines and meetings, family duties, household chores and whatever else comes and grabs a place on your mental and emotional desks. So how do you unlock the talent that could be the determining factor in telling a compelling story and generating real interest in your company?

First, dig down and grab some courage. Then decide to really use your talents to build a bridge to the interests of your audience. Make the decision to be expressive. That means speaking fully and using your superb voice well so it’s modulated by changes in pitch, rate and volume. And don’t forget the importance of pauses to signal what’s important: what I call “non-verbal punctuation.”

Next focus on how you move and use your body, for a good speaker delivers through his posture, gestures, facial expressions and emotions. Use your whole being to engage the eyes and ears of your listeners. Roger Ailes identified the importance of this personal “composite message” as essential for success in his classic book on communicating, You Are the Message. 

However you get into your “maximum delivery zone” realize that it takes courage and lots of practice to deliver a compelling message in public. But once you have unleashed your secret sauce, I doubt you’ll be able to get it back in the bottle again.