Tips and Techniques for Participating in Meetings and Presentations
By Adele Landauer
Nobody at his company knows who David is, which is a shame because he is a smart guy with a lot of good ideas. In fact, he’s personable, has a good sense of humor, and is full of aspirations. It isn’t that he is shy or lost among a thousand cubicles at a major corporation. David works for a medium-sized software company that offers a lot of opportunity for upward movement, and people actually do know who he is. They see him in the break room being lively and engaging. The members of his team know him as a capable and hard worker who makes sound analyses and is constantly finding ways to improve their project. So why does David feel invisible or worse: why does he feel irrelevant at his company?
Like many companies, David’s is very meeting-oriented. They have meetings for problem solving, decision-making, planning, feedback, feed forward, combo meetings, and meetings to schedule the next round of meetings. The future projects David will be working on are decided in these meetings, and they are one of the few opportunities he has to show his superiors not only his good ideas but his desire to do more for the company. The reason why David feels irrelevant or unknown and ends up working on other people’s good ideas instead of his own has nothing to do with sitting quietly in a corner. He does speak. He does participate. He tries to engage and show his enthusiasm, but everything comes out wrong. He is not believable. He doesn’t appear authentic. He has no charisma. He has a Communication Wall that is blocking his ability to express himself in an honest and real way. People hear him, but they do not listen to him. His content and argument are betrayed by his body language and voice. Going into a meeting for David is like going on a roller coaster. He is not afraid. He wants to show that he is not afraid, but once the meeting starts, he is screaming and flailing about. For David, there is a discrepancy between who he is and how he acts.
Eventually David found and tore down his Communication Wall. It was a process of deep introspection coupled with finding a strong desire to change and following through every single day on that decision to live wall-free. To help him fight against his old patterns, David learned a couple of tips and techniques that actors actually use to make a strong impression and have a lasting effect on their audiences:
Take responsibility for your appearance. Decide for yourself how you want to come across and what kind of first impression you would like to make. From the very first moment you enter a room, walk on stage, or step up to a podium, use your body language to show yourself to be a likable, competent, persuasive, and charismatic person. How people perceive you and judge what you say starts long before you utter a word.
—Come across as in control and capable. When sitting, find a comfortable position—do not bob or fidget back and forth. When standing, maintain a strong posture. Keep your gluteal muscles lightly contracted in order to raise your pelvis as you extend your vertebrae to ensure that you are standing up straight and not resting on a hip.
—Every motion has a beginning and an end. When you walk during a presentation, do it consciously as well. Take a few steps to approach a designated point while avoiding unconscious and mindless movements and gestures. Let your body speak, but in a relaxed manner. Every gesture should come from your center and then return there or be replaced by an appropriate, natural movement. Allow each gesture a moment to have an impact. Your body language will be more confident and you will appear more knowledgeable and convincing. Avoid quick, hectic, and agitated movements.
—Breathe from your core. During inhalation your abdominals, lower back, and sides are extended. Relax them completely during exhalation. Nervousness or stage fright as well as stress and excitement can be easily managed when you use abdominal breathing.
—Only those who burn themselves can spark others. Inspire your audience with your presence and intensity. Speak from the power of your own passion. Enjoy every second of your presentation or the meeting so that your passion touches others. Make sure that everyone present in the room feels addressed and involved. Spread your attention and energy out into every corner of the room to ensure that no one feels left out.
—Develop a sense of mission! Know and believe that you have something important to say. Remember: what goes around, comes around. Everything that you give and send out, will come from your audience back around to you.
—Smile! Not only will it relax you, but it will create a real, open, and honest connection with others.
Success in business today is determined by more than the quality of our content or the caliber of our product, but also by how that content or product is presented. Countless hours of hard work are only given a few moments to shine in a boardroom, at a conference, or during a presentation or customer pitch. Too many great ideas have fallen victim to a simple lack of appeal—yet not of the idea itself, but rather of the person presenting it. Use these tips and techniques to help you tear down your Communication Wall and find success as David has.
About the Author(s)
Adele Landauer is an international expert on success, achievement, and self-leadership. As a coach, she teaches effective presentation skills to business leaders, politicians, and sports teams. She also works with organizations and teams of all sizes as well as individuals in personal coaching to help improve productivity and results. Her first international book is entitled Experience Total Freedom: 6 Steps to Tearing Down Your Walls and Living Your Life with Happiness, Balance, and Success. Inspired by the Fall of the Berlin Wall. For more information. visit www.adelelandauer.com.