Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

It’s a myth that all you need is the correct words. Even if you already have credibility with your audience, the way you deliver your message is likely to have far more impact than the words you use. You can achieve strong professional presence and be highly persuasive with one simple idea.

Show your desire to make the audience feel something
about your topic. Make it obvious.

Don't think this is just about you. To build rapport with your audience, your desire must be genuine. As you speak, actively seek out individuals, looking them in the eye for a heartbeat. In effect, you’re saying to each, I want you to get this... and you... and you... Let your face express the importance of the message. Let your voice emphasize the importance of your message – it should rise and fall, speed up and slow. Let your torso express the importance of the message. You're connecting, building the audience relationship with your whole self, not just your mouth. It’s irresistible. It’s compelling. It’s professional presence.

Try it out in advance:

Before your next presentation

  • Pick part of your topic that you know well, find a trusted colleague to practise on, and sit her in front you. Say something like this: “I’m going to run a couple of sentences past you. Give me some feedback on how convincing I look and sound.”
  • Now, think to yourself, I really want you to get this and use your eyes, face, voice and torso to deliver your words with a little more energy than is normal for you. Just a little, because a big change would feel weird at first. Ask your colleague, “Did I seem more convincing than usual, or did I overdo it?” (For most, the feedback is, “It’s more convincing.”)
  • Pursue it immediately with your colleague. Raise the bar. Be a little more emphatic and expressive. Get more feedback. What’s the right level for you?
The real thing 
  • Ask the same colleague to sit in on the real presentation (in the back) and give you subtle, instant feedback. Perhaps palm up for give us more, palm down for calm down, and thumb and forefinger circled for just right. That instantly soothes your inner voice of caution. Finally your brain will accept that the new way works and will rewire itself for a different ‘normal’.

Do all that and you won’t have to bother with many of the usual presentation-training bullet points. And I’m sure you haven’t missed the real bonus. Less suffering. More pleasure. A much more appreciative audience.

Have fun

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Michael Brown is the author of Speaking Easy: engage your audiences with confidence and authority. For the printed version ($34.95), send us a note This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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