How to Start Strong with Any AudienceIn Brian Tracy’s new book, Speak to Win, he presents 8 tips for taking command of the podium before even speaking a word:
Step Up Confidently. When you are introduced, step up to the podium and shake hands with the introducer. As soon as you have the stage to yourself, turn to the audience. Start with silence. Smile and sweep your eyes slowly around the room for a few seconds, as if you are really happy to be there. As you stand silently, smiling, the audience will very quickly settle down and wait for you to begin.
Look the Part. Your appearance tells the audience how you think and feel about yourself. Your appearance also communicates to the audience members how you think and feel about them. People will make a decision about you in the first 30 seconds. Nothing about how you look—your clothes, your grooming, your stance—should distract from or diminish your message. As a rule, it isn’t “cool” to get up in front of an audience dressed as if you had just been working out at the gym.
Build Positive Expectations. Your first job is to raise expectations. You want to make the audience members feel glad they came. You want them to be eager to hear more. You want them to like you from the start. The more likeable people perceive you to be, the more open they will be to your message, and the less resistant they will be to any controversial points or ideas you bring up.
Take Charge Immediately. When you stand up to speak, you become the leader. The audience wants you to take charge and be in control. Act as if you own the room and as if everyone works for you. Then, people will believe and follow.
Speak Directly to the Audience. When you begin speaking, focus in on a single person in the audience. Start off by speaking directly and warmly to him or her. Then, casually move on to another face, and then another, and another. This direct eye contact slows you down, calms your nerves, and helps you to develop a relationship with the people in your audience.
Be Authentic and Humble. The best way to be liked is to be genuine. If you feel a little embarrassed or overwhelmed by the positive attention the audience is giving to you, it’s OK to show it. Try not to appear as if you know it all.
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