Posts Tagged ‘executive presence’

Grab/Keep the Attention of Your Business Audience: Take Stage (Part 1)

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Would you like to grab your business audience’s attention and keep them riveted to your presentations?  Do what actors do:  take stage!  Inhabit the space with a “do or die” purpose and an attitude of complete belonging.

Your physical demeanor speaks volumes about you, and your business audience is sizing you up before you even say a word.  Here are three basic strategies, to make your physical demeanor enhance your presence:

  • Whether you’re seated or standing, begin speaking with both feet planted firmly on the ground.  Imagine that your legs are tree trunks and your feet are roots extending deep into the ground.  This initial grounding helps you claim the space as your own and helps give weight to your subsequent movements.  It helps you project confidence and authority.
  • If you’re standing, stand away from furniture and resist any temptation to lean for support.  If someone offers you a podium, politely decline it, if you can.  Whenever possible, you want to eliminate any physical barriers that could come between you and your audience.  If you must use a podium, stand tall and don’t lean on it!
  • Whenever possible, give any handouts you may have after your presentation has ended, not before or during the presentation.  When you give people material to read during your talk, you are inviting them to focus on a piece of paper and inviting them to ignore you.  Giving your audience material to read also suggests the idea that they could just as effectively have read your content, and that they didn’t need to come hear you live and in person!

When you apply these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to taking stage; you will make your physical demeanor enhance your presence, and you will get buy-in faster.

 

How to Use Your Voice to Build Trust: Apply This Acting Technique!

Monday, December 5th, 2016

When you speak with clients and prospects, would you like to build trust faster?  You can do this by projecting warmth and a spirit of caring with a technique that actors have been using successfully for decades.  It’s called “Endowment”.

The Endowment technique involves the process of endowing your conversation partners and business audiences with qualities that will help you treat them in a way that builds trust.  Rehearse with the Endowment technique with the notes that you have for any business talk.  This will help you feel and project warmth spontaneously, even with challenging prospects and clients.

Here are three steps for rehearsing with the Endowment Technique:

Step 1:   Think of a person from your life in whose presence you feel cared for, trusted, admired, and respected.   This person might be male, female; any age; alive or not.

Step 2:    Use the power of imagination before you begin rehearsing aloud. Choose a spot on the wall to place your focus, and in your mind’s eye, “see” that person, right there in front of you.  Most importantly, take time to become flooded with positive feelings that you have about this person.

Step 3:  As you speak your content aloud, imagine that the person is right there with you, and speak as if you were talking directly to that individual.

Rehearsing with the Endowment technique will have a very positive effect on the tone of voice that you use.  The more you practice it, the easier it will be for you to project warmth and spirit of caring.  Rehearse with the Endowment technique, and build trust faster.

How to Engage Listeners with the Power of the Surprising Pause

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

As a business speaker, would you like to learn how to use your voice, to keep your listeners riveted to your message?

Like a good actor, you can use your voice and the power of the surprising pause to command attention and add depth to your business message.  You may be interested to know that the great Shakespearian actor, Sir John Gielgud, said that the pauses are the most important moments of a speech!

Pausing at meaningful and unpredictable moments will enhance your speaking power in three ways:

1
It will create variety in your delivery:  A moment of unexpected silence provides the greatest contrast to a stream of words.
2
It will create suspense:  It teases your listeners for just a moment, making them want to hear more.
3.
It will enhance listener understanding:  A surprising pause, filled with meaning, allows your listeners to observe a difference quality in you and highlights the subtle nuances of meaning within your message.

Watch this video to see and hear my demonstration:

Right now, I’m going to speak an excerpt from a play called Other People’s Money by Jerry Sterner.  The dialogue is spoken by a character who is a CEO of a company.  As I speak,  I’m going to pause in spots that are logical and fairly predictable.  Here I go:

“One day, / when the dollar is weaker or the yen stronger, / or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, / demand will skyrocket.”

Now, a more interesting and more engaging choice would be to pause in spots that are less predictable; like this:

“One day, / when the dollar/is weaker / or the yen / stronger, / or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, / demand / will skyrocket.”

Isn’t that more interesting?

As you rehearse and deliver any business talk, take some meaningful pauses at less predictable moments.   Use the power of the surprising pause, and make your delivery truly compelling.

Speaking Mistakes: Humility Saves Face

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Have you ever made a mistake during a business meeting or conversation: a big mistake that was obvious to everyone?  You don’t have to lose face in situations like these.  Here is a tip that will help you save face.

At one point or another, in your professional life, you may at one time or another, have dropped the balls. You said the most inappropriate thing or your spoken mistake that everyone noticed was a serious one.  These situations present two choices for you.  You can

1:   Pretend that it didn’t happen:  this is never advisable when you are sure that everyone noticed your mistake!

2:   Accept that you dropped the balls and demonstrate humility.

Humility might be an instant and sincere apology. It might be self-deprecating humor.  It might be that you allow others to see you try with your heart and soul to correctly your mistake and maybe even fail to correct it!  Humility means that we accept our right relationship with nature and allow people to see our human-ness.  Because human beings make mistakes and are sometimes wrong — and most everyone we do business with can identify with that.

Humility is a very importance ingredient in successful business speaking.  It’s not a weakness.  It’s actually strategic.  It’s a quality that makes us approachable, more likeable, and more attractive to do business with.

Increase Harmony in Challenging Conversations: Part 2

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

When you’re in the middle of a challenging business conversation, and you’re certain that your tone of voice has been “above reproach”, what else can you do to increase harmony?

I recently talked with you about the importance of monitoring your tone of voice to increase harmony in challenging conversations.  Here are three more strategies to help guarantee your success: 

#1: Give positive reinforcement.

We often need to continue having business conversations with people whom we have already experienced to be difficult.  Be on the lookout for their positive behavior, and acknowledge it verbally.  Whenever you witness behavior that you would like to see repeated, you can say something like, “That’s one of the things I admire about you:  your ability to ___”.    Identify the positive behavior; praise it. 

#2:  Interrupt people tactfully when they are shouting, dominating a conversation or meeting, or complaining with increasing negativity

Calmly repeat the person’s name over and over again.  When the person stops speaking, state or restate your own intention in the conversation. 

#3:  Respond to criticism strategically.

Thank people when they criticize you.  When we defend ourselves, it often  appears to be an admission of guilt.  Instead, you can say something like,  “Thank you for telling me how you feel”, or “Thank you for being honest”, or just “Thank you.”   “Thank you” is a complete sentence! 

When you monitor your communication in these three ways, you’ll help bring out the best in people, increase harmony, and set the stage for greater success in challenging business conversations.

 

 

Building Belief With Acting Objectives: Benefits for You

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

In my last few blogs, I have described the value of applying acting objectives when you prepare to speak for business.  Here are some additional benefits that you will experience when you use this technique.  Pursuing acting objectives

#1:  gives you laser-beam focus and simplifies the process, because it gives you just one thing to think about: what you are doing with your words as you speak

#2:  galvanizes your energy toward your listeners; it’s the quickest and most powerful way to project energy, commitment, passion, and poise.

#3:  provides a completely organic way to make your voice and physical demeanor support your content.  It turns your voice, body language, and content into one seamless, unified message.

When you are speaking in business conversation or making a presentation, this gives you maximum power and delivers to your listeners maximum impact.

Enhance Your Leadership Presence With Acting Improvisation

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Would you like your business listeners to trust you more?  Would your business improve if you could convince prospects that you will be a true business partner for them?  Would you like to generate more new business and keep more the business you already have? 

If you’re answer is YES, you won’t want to miss my exciting program called “Enhance Your Leadership Presence with Acting Improvisation.”  You’ll learn how to enhance your leadership presence by using acting improvisation, storytelling techniques, and the “yes and” mindset to transform your communication skills. You’ll learn how to generate business by deepening interpersonal connections, speaking with authenticity, building trust, and engaging your listeners. And you’ll learn how to address the changing needs of your existing clients by expanding your creativity and spontaneity. 

I describe this work as “serious fun”. You’ll be engaged in playful, interactive activities:  acting improvisation, theater and imagination games, and mind, body, and voice techniques that will help you project a spirit of collaboration and convince your prospects that you can (and will) help them solve their business problems. 

Let me tell you how acting improvisation will enhance your leadership presence: 

#1:  Whenever you speak for business, your listeners have one over-riding concern: they want to know what’s in it for them.  Acting improvisation addresses this concern.  Early in their training, actors learn that the audience is always asking the question, “Why are you telling me this?”  Acting improvisation teaches that you must answer this question, and answer it in a way that is compelling for your listeners.  This is a skill that every business leader needs!  If you’re not answering this question in a way that is compelling for your listeners, you’re losing business. 

#2:  To generate new business and keep the business you already have, you need to engage your listeners.  Acting improvisation teaches what a message is made of, what needs to happen; it teaches you how to discern when the beginning should be over, when your listeners have had enough of the middle, when it’s time to move on to the ending, and how long that should last, etc. Leaders who use this knowledge and the timing that it develops become truly engaging:  become masters of engagement.  And they have a measurable competitive edge! 

You, too, can become a master of engagement. Acting improvisation will teach you how!  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this innovative program: you’ll take away powerful techniques to transform your leadership presence.  

Discover how play will enhance the way you work. And get ready for some serious fun!  I look forward to working with you.

 

 

 

Engage Listeners With the Power of the Pause (“Let Your Ideas Land”, Part 3)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

 

Would you like your business listeners to be drawn IN when you speak?  Would you like them to feel eager to hear what you’re going to say next?

If your answer is YES, you need the power of the pause.  Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they are going to speak.  The tempo of your spoken word has a strong impact on your listeners and directly influences their level of engagement and influences the way you are perceived.  Your pauses are key.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to process a spoken idea.  When you listeners can see you, they need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  your visual delivery, as well as vocal delivery.  Your pauses can give them the time they need.

A University of Michigan study revealed that when speakers never paused, they had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  And the great British actor, Sir John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!  He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time.  Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”.  Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea.  Another benefit of the pause is that it gives you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level.  During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain eye contact.

During the pause, your listeners will usually be wondering why you’ve paused and wondering what you’re going to say next.  So, your pauses increase listener curiosity and engagement level, and they make you more compelling.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input.  They may lose some of your meaning; they may even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs, communicating that your message has value, and drawing them IN.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!

 

Engage Listeners: Pace Your Thoughts to “Land”

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

One way that successful speakers engage their listeners is by pacing effectively and allowing each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.  This helps listeners understand fully and gives variety to the delivery.  I recommend a rehearsal exercise based on one that I learned from the Academy-Award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis.

Today, I’ll present the first step in this process:  Think in thought groups, rather than thinking in words.  This will help your pacing become organic, authentic, and compelling.

Research tell us that people don’t think in words; we think and listen in complete thoughts.  Match the way you speak with the way your listeners listen!  Apply my adaptation of Olympia’s technique, which was originally created to help actors internalize the sections and emotions of a scene.  I have adapted Olympia’s technique for business speakers, so that you will develop greater sensitivity to your listeners and more consistently pause, tune in, and allow each idea to “land” before you go on to the next idea.

Begin rehearsal for any business talk with a simple exercise:

  • Set out a few chairs, as you would for the game musical chairs.  Begin by sitting in one of them.
  • As you rehearse aloud, move to a different chair each time you complete a thought.  Speak each complete idea from a difference chair.
  • Repeat this exercise until your mind and your body have internalized the moments when each complete thought has ended and the next one is about to begin.

This simple exercise will increase your awareness of your thought groups.  It will help you become more sensitive to your listeners and be better able to pause, tune in to the listeners, and allow each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.

You listeners will understand more fully and be more fully engaged!

How to Avoid Sounding “Canned” When You Make a Business Presentation

Monday, November 17th, 2014

If you prepare your business presentation by memorizing, you will probably end up sounding “canned” — the quickest way to get prospects, clients, and other business listeners to tune you out.   To avoid this problem, do what the best actors do:  internalize, don’t memorize.

Most actors try to avoid rote memorization of a script, because memorization has a tendency to block the most important part (and the most connective part) of speaking: our communication actions that lie beneath the words.  Effective rehearsal is the rehearsal of communication actions/”objectives” (rather than the words themselves), in order to sound conversational and authentic at every moment.

When I played Amanda in The Glass Menagerie last summer, I was working with a young actor who tried to memorize lines by associating them with his blocking (i.e., where he sat, stood, and moved on stage).  The director changed the blocking many times during our rehearsal process:  of course, the actor then had difficulty remembering his lines!  He was then forced to learn lines with a different strategy: he began to internalize his lines by associating them with his underlying actions/objectives.  This allowed him to not only remember his lines perfectly, but to sound conversational, authentic, and believable.  His lines and physical behavior created a unified, seamless whole.

Business speakers, whether using notes or not, should internalize (not memorize) your content.  You need a strategy to help you become deeply connected to your message, so that listeners will believe that you are fully committed and that you and your message are “one”.

Do the following:  divide your notes for a talk into “beats” (individual topics that are smaller than your overall message).  For each beat, choose a communication action directed toward the listeners.  As you rehearse aloud, focus on the underlying communication action of each beat; keep it at the forefront of your mind, and pursue it energetically.

You will be better able to remember your content fully; you won’t have to worry about “memorizing” anything.  Your voice and body language will support your words,  turning your content and demeanor into one organic, unified, and seamless message.

When you rehearse this way, you’ll never have to worry about “over-rehearsing”, because your rehearsal will never produce a “canned” delivery.  Instead, your rehearsal will help you speak with authenticity and maximum impact.