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Power as a Presenter Begins with Presence

by Patty Shortreed, MSOD. Originally appeared in Rising Women Magazine

Successful presenters know that the key to getting their message across does not lie in its content. Content is only responsible for 7% of the results. Body language and vocal delivery together account for 93% of the impact of influencing your audience and having them remember your message to the point of taking action. What matters is your presence. It’s the congruence between your message, body language and vocal delivery that counts.

The purpose of communication is to be clear. It is the presenter’s responsibility to clearly convey the message. When your words say one thing and the body says another, the result is confusion.

The audience watches and listens to all of your cues. They listen visually, aurally, emotionally, intuitively, and energetically. They use all of their senses to construct a picture of what’s really happening. While they hear the content of the message and process it intellectually, they are also processing at a subconscious level, assessing the speaker for credibility. If the picture they see is congruent and consistent, trust occurs and they are likely to remember the message and act on it.

However, if the content of the message is incongruent with the speaker’s voice mannerisms and body language, (nervous fidgeting, rambling aimlessly about the subject, voice cracks and breaks mid sentence etc) the listener begins to doubt and critique the message. Beyond simply being distracted by your mannerisms, distrust results and then it’s really difficult for you to be heard.

Such idiosyncrasies reveal incongruence: you are not comfortable. Either you really don’t believe what you’re saying or in some way you don’t believe you should be the one saying it.

Developing presence involves some physical techniques but mostly it’s the inner game of self acceptance. Your preparation as speaker must go beyond organizing the content of what you will say to include the inner work of being comfortable with who you are. A person with presence is congruent in their message, voice delivery and body language.

Seven Ways To Develop Your Presence

1. Believe in what you say. Believe you are the one who rightfully deserves to say it. You have a unique voice in this world. If the message is coming through you, you are meant to speak it. Trust your truth. Do your inner housecleaning: discard the old stories and debunk the limiting beliefs that don’t match up with your message.

2. Keep the message simple. Be clear about what you really want to say. Write it out until you distill it down to a simple phrase that naturally comes through you. Include that message in casual conversation wherever you can. Make it a daily part of your interactions so when you do a presentation, it flows.

3. The easiest thing to do is to be yourself. It takes no extra energy. Relax. Let go of having to look good or being something you’re not. Trying to project an image of expertise or knowledge you don’t really own is obvious. The audiences’ intuitive perception of any hidden agenda will raise their suspicions and weaken your credibility. They know when you are confident in yourself and when you are not.

4. Ground yourself. Get into your body and out of your head. Practice grounding exercises that are easy to engage if you lose your place in the presentation. Trust your body has the wisdom to get you back on track to saying what you want to convey.

5. Learn to manage your nervous energy. Direct it to your core where your body can contain and use it more powerfully. Meditate daily to cultivate stillness. Breathing exercises will also serve you well when those nervous moments arise.

6. Acknowledge the truth when you don’t know the answer. Demonstrate your self confidence by asking the group if they know. Share yourself, be vulnerable first. The audience will appreciate that you are human too. Your strength lies in your vulnerability.

7. Accept yourself. Suspend self judgment. Most people will love what you have to say but truthfully, some won’t. But don’t let that stop you. Honour their right to see the world their way, yet stand for yourself regardless.

Any form of presentation is an act of courage. It is a powerful moment for you to stand up and share your creativity. The world will form its opinion, good or bad. Your job is to express regardless. Practice often. Say YES! to all opportunities to speak.

When your message, body language and vocal delivery are congruent, your presence is powerful. You CAN be confident and compelling in your communication.

The world needs your voice. Claim it.

Are you ready to be a powerful, effective presenter? Learn more about "Claim Your Voice ~ Claim Your Power" services including transformational workshops and presentations. Or, contact us today for more information.

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