The aim of any presenter is to be trusted. Yet, time after time, audiences are not sold.
Many audiences even comment, "You know, there is something about that presenter that I just can't trust."
What you say when you present and how you say it are critical to establishing trust. Albert Mehrabian, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) identified that tone of voice and body language conveys presenters ‘real’ attitudes above the words used.
If there is any incongruence between a presenters personal delivery and their message, then audiences will automatically trust visual observations 55% of the time + tone of voice 38% of the time. The actual words presenter chooses to use make up only 7% of what any audience is gauging.
It is very important for you to be aware of what you might be doing to erode trust and avoid dangerous pitfalls.
Your Verbal Message
With regards to your actual words when you present, always assess whether your message is logical. Does Point ‘A’ lead to Point ‘B’, etc? Have you buried your ideas in too much verbiage? Do you over-talk an issue or get lost in too much detail? Would listeners feel you have supported your argument with suitable evidence? Does the action you are requesting seem appropriate based on what you have said?
A presenter who wants to be trusted must have a strong message and offer solid advice. The more complex a message, the more danger of straying off the path.
A confused audience never gives an approval.
Your Vocal Message
A voice marred with non-words, ums and ahs, is not the mark of a credible presenter. Neither is a monotone presenter.
Listeners need to hear your enthusiasm and sincerity. Your voice must have vocal variety. If it doesn't, you will erode your impact. People will wonder why they should believe in and trust you.
Your Visual Message
Many presenters believe the only thing they need to consider is their verbal message yet, body language, including eye contact, gestures, facial expressions and posture definitely affect trust levels amongst audiences.
Audiences immediately notice whether you are looking them in the eye during your presentation. If your eyes are scanning the room rather than the audience, if you are overly reading from your notes or the screen, then the subliminal message to your audience will be that you are unsure, maybe not convinced. People believe that if you are truly convinced by what you are presenting, you would look them in the eye.
An audience pays much attention to your body language including hand movements, fidgeting, position of arms, stationary or free to move etc. Therefore, to trust you, audiences need to observe you have nothing to hide, that you are open and receptive to their thinking or viewpoints when you present before them.
All audiences rely on your face to provide clues on how they should react to your verbal message. A face lacking appropriate expression is deadly - so is a face that shows fear or annoyance. A meeting, whether with the boss, an internal team or a client is not the time for a poker face. Your face should reflect the enthusiasm or concern you feel for your topic. If your facial expression does not match your words, you risk not being seen as trustworthy and credible.
Lastly, your posture plays into whether you will or won’t be trusted. Parents always say to children stand up straight or sit up straight. Parents want to instill correct posture because this concludes confidence. If there is anything about your posture that says you are not sure, you must be diligent about avoiding incorrect posture. This includes rocking or swaying.
Trust can be highly encouraged if your verbal, vocal and visual message is congruent. It is up to you to ensure that your body and voice back up your words.
Question: When you plan for and deliver a presentation, what is most challenging for you? What worries you the most?
EffectiveCommunication.com.au is interested in your response. Contact us to respond or ask any communication questions.
Virtual meetings are a perfect storm. Since attendees know they are not seen, they are often tempted to do additional things.
Unfortunately some people check email, voice mail and phone texts. Some people even leave the room if they believe time will allow!
If you are the host, multi-tasking attendees are not what you want. So how do you keep people engaged?
1. Sound Energetic
Your voice is the best way to coral your listeners. If you sound enthusiastic, sincere or eager, listeners are more apt to stay attentive. On the other hand, you invite trouble with a monotone.
A voice that is compelling has highs and lows or what is called vocal variety. Words are emphasized in each sentence so that people know what is important.
To maximize the impact of your voice, pay attention to your posture, gestures and expression. Standing up, for example, starts to get the body in motion. Adding gestures and smiling will continue to magnify the energy.
2. Begin with a Strong Opening Statement
People make instantaneous decisions. In those first few minutes, people decide whether your meeting is important, or not.
Begin by acknowledging the purpose of the meeting, why it is important, how they will benefit and what you need from them. This overview sets the stage. Choose your words carefully. Use strong nouns, verbs and adjectives. Without grabbing attention as you open, it is doubtful you will prevent people from doing other tasks.
3. Add Personal Stories, Examples, Analogies & Humor
As the host, it is your responsibility to keep people's attention from start to finish.
If you are boring or droning on about something, listeners will tune out. Make a business point stand out with a personal story.
Help non-technical audiences understand by citing examples or using analogies. Add a touch of humor and you will be someone people will enjoy versus tolerate.
4. Ask Meaningful Questions
When you are the host, it is important to consider the quality of your questions.
Remind yourself to ask at least one riveting or thought provoking question for every key point. For example, questions that might stir a lot of discussion are "What are the risks that we need to avoid?" or "How will we measure success?" Try to get interaction from everyone. If you haven't heard from a particular person, ask their opinion. "Jack, I haven't heard how you feel. Would you mind sharing your thoughts?"
5. Make Your Listeners Do Things
The more active your listeners are, the more productive they will be. Utilize the available technology tools, such as chat, annotation tools etc.
6. Applaud Ideas or Expertise
When you start calling out people for their contributions, others will notice and want the same recognition. "Mary, I know you have a lot of experience in compliance issues. Can you share how best to proceed?" "Ralph, thank you for sharing what you learned from the beta tests you did with the Project Launch for …. Those results are priceless and will shortcut our efforts."
7. Create Simple, Colorful Slides
In a virtual meeting, slides take prominence. Keep your slides simple.
Viewers should easily see the point. Slides should not make multiple points. They should advance your story. As you create your slides, make sure they are interesting and colorful. Be sure to add images, charts and graphs.
Avoid excel charts. Try to synthesize your ideas.
8. Keep to the Schedule
Begin and end on time. People go from meeting to meeting and resent when a speaker goes over-time. Allow ample time for questions.
9. Turn On Your Webcam
It will create an emotional connection with attendees and build credibility.
While not everyone has a webcam, the host should encourage those who do to turn them on. It will keep them more attentive.
If using a webcam, remember to look directly into to your camera.
10. Anticipate Problems
In a perfect world, nothing will go wrong, but the odds are in the virtual world, problems will occur.
It is a good idea to sign in as a guest with a second computer loaded with your slides at the ready. If for some reason, you are having a problem, you can move to the second computer and continue on without interruption.
11. Find an Assistant
The last thing a speaker needs to do is multi-task.
It is a lot easier if you appoint another person to handle all the technical issues, like assigning privileges or monitoring chat.
12. Have the Right Attitude
Be yourself and stay humble.
Be prepared for dissension and don't become defensive. Know where resistance will come from and how best to approach it.
We evidently live in a global society, and virtual meetings are more and more the norm. As the host, you go to a lot of trouble to prepare. Therefore, to ensure that people will stay attentive and not become distracted, be sure to utilize these suggested tips.