Stylish presenters get more ‘YES’?
Think of a time when you saw someone making a presentation and made you feel, “Wow, I wish I could present like that!”
It can be a colleague, a vendor, a client, or maybe even the future president of the United States!
What do any of them have in common?
Most likely, they exude confidence, and they command your attention with their presence. A person has presence when the way they ‘carry’ themselves makes others in the same room notice them. There is a vibe!
A room can be physical or virtual. For example, you may have been on a Zoom call where you found it hard to pay attention to the speakers because they were so “boring”. Maybe in these situations you found yourself looking at social media? Or kept watching the clock to make sure it’s not really standing still?
Speakers that don’t command your attention don’t have presence, whether online or offline. It is as simple as that.
This is true for you too when you are presenting to your audience.
“Powerful people initiate speech more often, talk more overall, and make more eye contact while they’re speaking than powerless people do. When we feel powerful, we speak more slowly and take more time. We don’t rush. We’re not afraid to pause. We feel entitled to the time we’re using.”
So how can you build presence virtually? How can you build trust in virtual platforms?
When presenting in a physical world to people in front of you, it is easier to build presence because you can communicate a lot through your non-verbal cues. While online, you only have a 2D box in someone else’s’ screen to work with. It’s more challenging to build a presence online of course, but it can still be done.
How to build presence virtually
If you are slouching while reading this, straighten up your chin, neck, and shoulders right now.
It feels very unnatural right? At first, yes, but you will get used to it after some time.
Here are some tips on how to get upright.
• Sit on a chair with a firm, upright back support. Use a cushion if you need to.
• Make sure your feet are firmly flat on the floor. Shoulder width apart.
• Scrunch and drop your shoulders 3 times. It will straighten that slouch.
If you do just this one thing to increase your presence, it will go a long way. Not only does it make you look taller and more confident; a straight posture also helps with your voice. Your voice will project better with varying pitch, volume, and tempo, making you sound clearer and more confident.
You can also get some external support with some inexpensive tech hacks to help amplify voice and posture.
Hack #1: Standing or sitting on a high chair or bar stool.
Hack #2: Stacking books or using a height-adjustable laptop stand.
Hack #3: Soundproofing with a USB condenser microphone.
“But it doesn’t feel like me! I feel like I am trying to become someone else” you say?
Yes, at first it may feel strange. If you are used to eating rice for lunch then suddenly switch to eating sandwich only, it will feel strange. Keep practicing, and you will ‘fake it till you become it’, in the words of Amy Cuddy, Ph.D.
Remember that confident person you thought about at the beginning of this blog? When this person started presenting, they were most likely just as nervous and awkward as you!
Eventually, it becomes natural, and they seem to have this ‘superpower’ of influencing their audiences to get a YES. It is part of your journey of how you develop yourself as a leader.
How do you know when you are at this level of ‘superpower’? If you follow Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 out of the four presentation pillars (see below if you are not sure what I’m referring to), your style and presence are just the icing on the cake.
Want more? OK, here is a summary of how you can present yourself during your pitch:
1. Introduce yourself – give credibility
2. Straight to the point – don’t waffle
3. Be clear and focused in your voice
4. Strong closing with a clear call to action
Now you know how to have a presence, your slides and presentation will be pretty polished. But there is still one more hurdle to overcome… the dreaded Question & Answer session!
There are four pillars in presentations that will get you the ‘yes’ you are looking for when making your pitch:
1. Structuring to pitch an idea
2. Visualising with slides
3. Layering style with presence
4. Speaking spontaneously in Q&A
Read our final blog in this series on your journey to become a presentation master…