Want to show leadership in your pitches, speeches, and presentations? Learn this simple but amazing speaking trick!
Are you hungry? Does the pitch you're about to make mean landing a huge client, enhancing your company's reputation, or bringing in years of revenue? Are you really eager to make this deal?
Careful. All of that may be showing.
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While you want to appear ready to go to bat for a prospective client, you don't want to look and sound desperate. Fortunately, there's a simple speaking trick that will help boost your credibility while giving you the sound of leadership.
Really, you want to hear this.
Are You Thinking of Your Listeners, or Yourself?
We can really get wrapped up in how well we're doing, can't we? (Even speech coaches realize that a great speech isn't ONLY about performance!) Okay, we're all human; so we care about how we come across.
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The truth is, we're naturally speaker-centric. We spend time thinking about how others will view our presentation . . . but the truth is, we shouldn't give that any consideration. Just as with actors, it's the moment-to-moment truth of what's happening that will lead to the right goal. You can imagine standing with triumph on a mountain peak. But the plain fact is, you have to put in the work to get there.
On top of that, we spend endless amounts of time and mental energy on our content, to be sure we get it just right. But public speaking isn't research. It isn't even preparation for getting ready to speak. It's the act of speaking itself. Your task at that moment is very different from everything else you do in your job (except your conversations with people). It's simple and singular, even if it isn't always easy: to connect with listeners and give them what they need. (See my recent article on messaging in public speaking to understand exactly how to do that.)
What about organizing a speech strategically? Do you know the essential elements? You'll find them in my Free White Paper, "7 Key Components of Successful Presentations."
Ask yourself, then: are those two habits—focusing on your performance and spending all of your time with your content—counter-productive? You bet they are! The solution is to become audience-centric. After all, isn't that what leaders do: not looking in the mirror, but looking to lead?
Slow It Down . . . and Bring Home the Business!
Once you get on the right wavelength—the one that puts your audience at the center of things—everything about your presentation skills should change. From conceiving your topic to delivering it, you will be creating a speaking persona that's excels at its job of giving everything you've got to your listeners.
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For one thing, you'll develop the habit of considering everything you say in terms of how your audience will perceive it and take it to heart. More than anything else, that means their understanding that they'll get something from it. Of course that means saying the right things, and in terms that they will relate to. (You should also specifically tell them why what you're about to say will benefit them.)
Here's the simple trick that will both boost your authority and help you get through in that way:
Slow down. Speaking too fast (even breathlessly), and appearing too eager can undermine your credibility. It can make you sound, well, junior. Or too hungry. You also run the risks of making it hard for listeners to grasp all the points you're making. And you might just make them feel exhausted. If you think that sounds like you, try this: Make a video of yourself being energetic and excited and enthused (geez, I'm getting tired already). Now, a second take: this time, slow down your delivery; and especially, take time as you transition from one main point to the next.
Vocal and delivery skills are a key factor to speaking for leadership! Learn more in my Free Tips and Tricks Guide, "The Voice of Authority: How to Sound Like a Leader."
You may be surprised at how this one "small" change makes a big difference. You'll gain authority, the appearance of more expertise, and if you're young, some maturity and wisdom. Your listeners may also view you as more senior in your organization. I've given this feedback to clients and seen immediate results which, believe me, can be dramatic.
We don't always know why things—somethings simple things—work in spoken performance that we may not have anticipated. Call it whatever you like: magic, or chemistry, or Fred. I don't particularly care, as long as it works. Do you?
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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2021 for the eighth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and at Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.