The key to engaging, and thus persuading, your audience is authenticity. This means bringing your true self to the fore. If you try to be something you are not your audience will see straight through you
There are seven key areas you can utilize when trying to ensure you present as your real self. Look at each briefly in turn and evaluate what effect they can have – for better or for worse!
1) Voice. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – don’t try to put on the voice of another, or to mimic a style you think the audience expects. Use the voice you were given, it’s the one with the most credibility.
2) Content. People know when you’re saying things you really don’t believe, or saying things in a way that is contrary to who you are. If you have to say something that makes you uncomfortable, find a way to re-frame it in terms you can assert with confidence and integrity.
3) Facial expression. Forced smiles and other forms of feigned sincerity and enthusiasm are easily detected by the audience. They’re a form of dishonesty and throw into question everything you’re saying. Be genuine and be sincere.
4) Attire. Don’t dress in clothes of a style that aren’t what you normally wear. If you never normally wear a suit and tie then wearing one to present in is going to make you feel as though you’re in a straight jacket. Equally dressing down from a suit to a polo shirt and chino’s can have the same effect on you. Dress as who you are, and what you feel comfortable in. For formal presentations It’s always better to be one point over than one point under what the audience is wearing.
5) Body language. Don’t try to gesticulate in a style that is significantly different to your natural style. No gesticulation and exaggerated gesticulation are extremes to be avoided. Work on using some gesticulations, but make sure you feel comfortable in doing them, and make sure they are appropriate for the audience and the subject matter.
6) Eye contact. When you look at others do you communicate connection and warmth or is it dodgy hit and run style? Make eye contact that is direct and prolonged enough to say, I see you and I’m paying attention to you.
7) Passion. You are more impactful when you’re passionate about your subject, but you don’t have to effuse to show passion. It can be contained in the quality of our content, the cool confidence of our delivery, or the simmering facial expressions.
The bottom line is: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken
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