By Lucia Brizzi, Next Level Leadership, Inc.
Various studies suggest that anywhere between 93-97% of communication is non-verbal: tone of voice and body language. The strategies here will help you utilize your voice and body to step into powerful presence, and make what matters heard.
Make Your Value Visible
- Take your seat at the table: Position yourself in the room to be included.
- Expand: Cary yourself with open physicality to send a signal to yourself and others that you are at east.
- Breath deeply for a full, supported voice.
- Speak through the end of sentences, rather than trailing off.
“Frame It to Claim It”:
- Emphasize what matters with transitions –“significant,” “critical,” key,” “essential.”
- Organize your points–“first” (so it’s easy for us to pay attention), “second” (so people don’t interrupt before you’ve finished).
Use S.S.V. (Succinct, Specific, Value Added) language:
- Cut out qualifiers: “kind of” and tag questions: “Don’t you think?”
- Use “Point Before Proof”
- Focus equally (or more!) on the person you’re speaking to as yourself
Become an energy alchemist:
- Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm. Instead of freezing and getting smaller, channel energy into excitement for your topic and audience.
Set your target:
Enter the conversation with clarity.
- Have specific objectives at every meeting, whether or not you are leading.
- Then, be open. When you’re crystal clear, you can allow yourself to be receptive to what emerges in the conversation without fear of losing your footing.
When Giving a Presentation, ‘Feel Out’ The Space
We’ve all seen a presenter be either ‘too big’ (Who are they yelling at?) or ‘too small’ (Who are they hiding from?) for the size of the room and audience. The audience wants to connect with a speaker–just as if we were sitting across a coffee table- whether we’re in the back of a ballroom or in the front of a small meeting room.
Before actors perform, they get on the stage to ‘feel it out.’ Try out this simple, useful practice.
- Prior to a presentation, get in the room.
- Stand at the front of it, eye its depth and width, and walk though it.
- Then, just before you begin, take a deep breath and let your eyes take in the full size of the space and your audience. This will give your voice and body all the information needed to make your presence heard and felt.
- If you can’t get into the space ahead of time, do an active visualization of yourself giving the presentation with easeful, powerful presence.
If you feel the impulse to move: Move–decisively. Restricting movement leads to distracting energy dissipation–finger tapping, swaying, head nodding, etc.
- Idle hands fidget: Put them to work by using gesture to emphasize your points.
- Idle feet pace: Walk with intention. Use movement to engage with individuals in different parts of the room. Who says you must present from front and center?
Choose Your Tone
- Be clear on your intention: The voice is a truth teller. It reveals your inner state. If you are enthused, inspired, and passionate about what you are saying, we will hear that in your vocal quality. If you aren’t…we’ll hear that, too.
- Enliven your words: Use vocal emphasis and clear enunciation, rather than monotone or slurring. This will also help you avoid rushing.
- Make it easy for us to follow you: Breathe and pause between items on lists or important points. We have no written punctuation to guide us as we listen, unless you pause to let us know you are going from one point to another.
We count on leaders to set and sustain a productive tone rather than letting their inner states be at the whim of others. In challenging interpersonal moments…
- Breathe: Often our first impulse when challenged is to hold our breath. This signals our body’s fight or flight response, and can spiral us into panic mode, where cognitive skills decrease, stress hormones increase, and our work suffers. By inhaling when we feel challenged, we put our body in a receptive mode- allowing us to maintain focus and receive all the relevant information to respond (or not) with integrity in the moment.
- Aim to take nothing personally: Remind yourself that, however it may feel, other’s behavior is not personal. Often they are acting on unconscious habits they have yet to examine. By remaining resourced and communicating with clarity, you can help shift the dynamic to a more positive one.
A specific challenge we are often asked about is “How do I deal with interruptions?” See our article entitled Managing Interruptions for tools to maintain serenity, confidence, and focus while navigating this challenge.