Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tips for Developing a Speaking "Presence"

"Presence" is hard to define, much less teach! It usually comes from within as a natural ability to enter a room, take control of the dynamics, and actually embrace and appreciate  the opportunity to talk to a room full of people—an audience.

Presence means enjoying being center stage, whether speaking at a TED Conference or being interviewed for what you hope will be a favorable review of your book. Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook and #10 on the Forbes list of the most powerful women in the world) and Thomas Siebel, founder of Siebel Systems and C3Energy (see previous post "Making a Connection") are people who relish being in front of a group and having many venues to speak and persuade.

People with presence generally dress well and like looking good. With those pesky details put away, they can concentrate on speaking directly to an audience—and they do so quite successfully! In fact, usually they over-prepare. To watch Sheryl Sandberg’s style of speaking, I suggest watching two of her commencement speeches: Barnard College in 2011 and Harvard Business School in June 2012.

To develop presence, you need to practice and speak at every opportunity. Speaking to entertain or persuade – if you're making a pitch for money – requires the same skills: excellent eye contact, an ability to "lean into" your audience, creative story telling, and sincerity.

Steve Jobs, who many regard as a terrific speaker, wasn’t always so. He had speech writers to take his thoughts and turn them into copy, coaches to show him how to deliver a speech with inflection and pauses, and then help blocking it out on stage and working on timing and transitions if using slides.

Learn to make eye contact with your audience. This requires practice and lots of it. Again, you need to practice because most people unconsciously favor one side of the room over another; it's work to connect with both sides of a room.

Use every opportunity to stand to deliver your message, answer or ask a question. Standing allows you to use your whole body, throw out energy and project your voice.

And finally, identify early on why you're speaking and what you want your audience to get. What should they take away from your speech or presentation? Limit your presentation to three concepts, as you won’t have time to develop more and an audience can’t remember more!

1 comment:

  1. It usually comes from within as a natural ability to enter a room, take control of the dynamics, and actually embrace and appreciate the opportunity to talk to a room full of people—an audience. funny images

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