In my years as an executive coach, I have come across many leaders who are amazingly talented, have a brilliant grasp of what they do, and are always brimming with new ideas to take their company forward. Their biggest question though is, “Vikram, how do I have people listen to what I have to say? How do I better myself at presenting the new idea at the next weekly meeting?”
While this question almost inevitably leads to talking about tips and techniques to make a great speaker out of an already talented leader; what we forget most of the times is, that the onus of a successful presentation doesn’t just lie with the presenter – it also lies with the audience.
Why do we always have to make a presentation more about how a person speaks, rather than what they’re saying? Whoever takes the podium, they somehow always have to assume a judgmental and probing stance of their audience before they even start speaking. And therefore, as an executive coach, I always ask clients who are looking to be more brilliant presenters, whether they are first and foremost a brilliant audience or not?
It’s an important question because being a good audience can actually send the much-required positive vibes to the presenter, making them less nervous, more confident, and make that presentation successful. The critical question that no one asks – “How to be a good audience?”
Let’s look at 3 best executive presence techniques- how a STAR leader as an audience member without saying a word makes the presenter feel like a VIP:
1.Looking at mobile phones is a big no!: Instead of waiting for the speaker to hit a rare humorous note, or maybe say something creative or dramatic to bring you out of your mobile screen, why not do it by yourself? Why do people have to make a person work hard at getting their attention when clearly everyone in the room already knows the reason they’re in that room? Even in your normal one-to-one conversation, it’s considered rude to check cell phone again and again; then in a presentation, this would be the easiest way to put a damper on the efforts of the presenter. When they’ve worked hard to prepare something, and clearly need you to be on board with it, the least you can do is show some basic courtesy.
2.Be more responsive: In your upcoming meeting, as a presenter, would you like to see one audience member with his body slouching? The second guy checking the clock on the wall? The third listener checking his incoming email on the phone? The fourth person having a side conversation? When you’re out there presenting to a group in a meeting, it’s always great to see someone in the audience nodding their head, saying “yes”, laughing at something funny being said, or just giving a slight smile, and so on. These are the little things that you can do to show how you’re listening to, and understanding the speaker’s point of view. Not just the speaker’s body language, but the audience’s matters too.
3.Be more present: There can be times when you’re not feeling well, or maybe there’s something on your mind that you’d say is more important than this meeting; but, you have to try to be alert and present in there. You have to focus! You can’t look like your mind’s drifting off to some other thing, or that you’re feeling drowsy. This could easily have a negative effect on the speaker. They could start feeling their energy levels dwindling too. So, say if you’re tired, try to sit more straight in your chair, and have your feet touch the ground flat – that should bring your attention right back to the moment.
Summary: Knowing that the audience is on the same page as the presenter, gives the presenter an amazing sense of power. And knowing this is what makes a leader, a star leader. They know that by following some very simple measures, members of the audience can actually do away with putting needless pressure on the presenter. And more importantly, they understand that this is by far, the shortest and most effective way to bring a meeting or a presentation to a successful conclusion. #BeTheStar
Comments: What are the various cues from the audience that have an impact on you while you are presenting? Share your thoughts. I love learning from my readers. And please share this science of influence.