Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

It's been my obsession for more than 20 years. What attracts the respect of your audience, regardless of their culture, language, race, religion, age or gender?  What attracts their personal respect for you even when they don't like your message?

The answer is remarkably simple. (And it's nothing to do with being word-perfect, or the way you use PowerPoint.)

Just two core qualities attract all audiences: the presenter's personal strength, and the presenter's connection with them.  And almost all of us are are inherently capable of both of those qualities.

But, of course, there's a catch. 

Under pressure, our self-protection instinct kicks in. Just like a curtain, we pull an opaque screen around us, that stops the audience seeing those core qualities.  What's the screen?  Self-consciousness. How ironic that our self-protection instinct weakens us in the eyes of the audience.

So. What to do about it. How do we best flick back that damaging screen so that audiences can see us at our best? Here's the most practical, simple, useful tip to come out of training many hundreds of people. It's the tip most likely to lead to that phrase 'life-changing'.

Make it obvious that you want your audience to get the message.

No, it's not enough that you want them to get it, the magic ingredient is in showing that you want them to get it.  For most of us that means deliberately getting more animated with our voice and body language. More importantly it also means getting busier with our eyes, emphatically seeking people out. At home, try this: look in a mirror and show an interest in your own face - watch your eyebrows rise, your eyes widen. 

Audiences respond. They feel respect.  I like that.

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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