We Tend To Focus
on what we’re saying when we’re in presentation mode. And we spend most of our prep time working on the verbal content. The words. The message. The analysis or update.
But The Visual
is also a big part of the mix. And I don’t just mean what we look like. It’s more like how we show up. The energy we communicate. The subtle cues or “tells” that influence how an audience perceives us.
Your Audience Is Watching
as well as listening. And most of us want to be perceived positively. But let’s face it, we don’t always feel like smiling. In fact, a client once shared their unique family background with me as a way of explaining why they did not (and would not) smile. Ever.
What to do? I understood their situation, and could only respect their honesty and self-awareness. Yet I had to help them deliver an important presentation that would engage their audience. This required some quick thinking!
Zen Look Of Affability
Enter a brand-new, made-up phrase. I came up with this idea to describe a neutral yet affable expression. Less than a smile; more than a frown. Friendly enough to communicate, “Yeah, it’s OK. I’m happy to be here.” I think we can all be pretty easy with the word affable.
Today’s Video (3:35)
is from a Keynote speech where I describe a client’s egregious body language and how it impacted me as I delivered a training session. In this case, I was the one reading someone else’s visual cues, figuring out what they meant and what to do about them. Sometimes it’s up to us as presenters to adapt, pivot, and work with what’s in front of us. Ultimately I believe our job is to build comfort and trust.
Body language is truly a language, and there’s lots to learn. Let’s try and remember that we bring our bodies along with us when we are communicating. The more aware we can be of how and what we’re signaling, the smarter we can be about it. And the better the impression we can make.
At The Same Time
Practice reading other people’s body language as you are out and about. Or viewing them on the screens. What kind of physical cues do you notice? How can you interpret what’s not being said, but perhaps indicated more subtly? Being deeply observant can offer all kinds of helpful hints to build our communication savvy.
There’s no question that non-verbal body language packs a powerful punch. As our friend Ralph Waldo Emerson said in the 1800’s: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
I hear you, Ralph. I hear you!
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