You can engage your business listeners fully by “taking stage”: capturing their attention and keeping it.
How do professional actors get the audience’s attention and keep them riveted to the action of a play? One answer is that they take stage: they inhabit the space with a “do or die” purpose and an attitude of complete belonging.
Business professionals need to do the same thing, in order to persuade and inspire your business listeners, whether you are speaking one on one, or to a group; whether you are speaking informally, or delivering a PowerPoint presentation.
Here are three techniques to help you take stage –to command your listeners’ attention and keep it:
1. Before you begin, situate yourself in a position of power whenever possible. When you are speaking to a group, that’s usually front and center. Whether you are seated or standing, begin with both feet planted firmly on the ground, and imagine that your legs are tree trunks and that your feet are roots extending deep into the ground. This initial grounding helps you claim the space as your own and gives weight to your movements. It helps you project confidence and authority.
2. If you’re standing, stand away from furniture and resist any temptation to lean for support. If someone offers you a podium when you speak to a group, politely decline it whenever possible, unless you truly need it. You want to eliminate as many physical barriers as possible that might come between you and your audience. If you must use a podium, stand tall and don’t lean on it!
3. If you have handouts for a talk, whenever possible, distribute them after your talk has ended — not before or during the talk. Giving people material to read during your talk encourages them to focus on the written word and encourages them to ignore you! Giving material in advance can send the message that your listeners might just as effectively have read your talk — that they did not need to hear you live and in person!
Take stage to engage your listeners. Better yet, take stage to captivate your business listeners!