PUBLIC SPEAKING: Influence Your Audience! (Part III)
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter F Drucker
Communication experts tell us that once someone trusts (and likes) us, it becomes easier for us to influence them. The same way, if you want to influence your audience, you must get them to trust you.
Influence Your Audience
According to Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, when we communicate face-to-face, we send subtle cues that determine whether the listener will like us in the following proportion: Visual – 55%, Vocal– 38% and Verbal – 7%.
This includes your appearance and body language.
Ensure your clothes are well-pressed, and stay away from bright, loud colors unless you’re presenting to children. Instead, go for black, grey or navy-blue.
For the ladies, avoid too much make-up and over-accessorizing. Keep your hair neat and ensure it doesn’t fall on your face. To look professional, leave those huge hand-bags at home; come with a medium or small-sized one.
For men, a clean-shaven, fresh-looking face will score you points. Keep your hair neat (apply some gel if you have to). Make sure your shoes are clean, and your socks match the color of your pants (avoid white socks on black pants).
Your Body Language
Maintain an ‘open posture’ at all times.
Stand straight while balancing on both feet. You’re allowed to walk, but keep it to a minimum, and move only when you know where you are going. Otherwise you will look unsure.
Instead of hiding your hands in your pockets or behind you, keep them in front where they can be seen. While presenting, use them to gesture flexibly; this makes you look charismatic and confident.
Avoid pointing as it signals authority and most audiences don’t like that.
Maintain eye contact with the audience so they feel you’re giving them attention, and remember to smile to put them at ease.
The idea here is to sound professional and enthusiastic. Nothing is worse than listening to a boring speaker.
So keep your tone sincere and polite. Avoid sounding harsh or rude, at anytime. Learn to vary your voice; speak slower when introducing a new topic so audiences grasp what you are saying.
If you’re talking about something serious, lower your volume (this makes people pay greater attention to you).
Remember the KISS rule; Keep It Short and Simple. Avoid using industry jargon that your audience may not know of. Instead use everyday language in short sentences so they feel like you’re talking to them.
You are not here to be judged on how good your vocabulary is, but on how you can effectively convey your message.
Bringing it all together
It’s important to keep your communication (visual, vocal and verbal aspects) congruent; if your body language conveys openness, then your voice must also be friendly. Otherwise, the listener will regard you as insincere and dishonest.
We must remember that getting the audience to trust us is just part of the equation (that many presenters often forget). To be 100% effective, our presentation must also be logical and easy-to-understand.
The tips above send powerful signals and work on people subconsciously. So, not only will they influence, your audience won’t even know what hit them!