Latest "persuasive speaking" Posts
When I think of leadership presence, I always remember Joanne, a managing director at a large private bank. Here’s her story …
It was the summer of 2010. This client company bank brought in 15 top Ivy League college graduates that they’d carefully recruited for an intensive six-week training/onboarding program.
I was booked to deliver a presentation skills training session about five and a half weeks into this program. I was scheduled to first join the 15 participants for dinner, so I got there early and sat down in their windowless training room. The first thing I noticed was that there was NO energy in the room. None. People looked exhausted, dazed, confused, and the guy next to me whispered, “There’s only 45 minutes left till dinner.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into one of the most important presentations skills anyone can master — one you definitely need in your presentation tool kit.
I’m talking about the art of storytelling, and business storytelling in particular.
Why is this such an important skill for business professionals to possess?
I’ll answer that question with another — would you be surprised to hear that science shows human beings are hard-wired for storytelling?
Stories provide a phenomenal way of grabbing attention, keeping it, getting a point across, creating rapport with an audience, and best of all, ensuring that they will leave remembering your message.
No doubt about it: When it comes to dynamic, effective and memorable speaking/presentations, storytelling is a must.
Long before humanity developed written language, our ancestors were passing along information and persuading others with stories around the fire at night.
You’re giving an important presentation to audience members who might not be entirely sympathetic.
Maybe it’s delivering news of downsizing, or a reduction in hours. Maybe it’s sharing bad sales statistics. Or, maybe it’s trying to sell an idea for change that’s not popular.
Whatever the message, the people staring back at you from the seats probably don’t know who you are.
They are a captive audience, compelled to attend your talk by company policy or their managers, whether they like it or not.
You already know they are not inclined to think about the issue or idea you’re presenting the same way that you do. So, now what?
If your goal is to open or even change their minds — to persuade, to get them to take the action you need them to take or see the issue in a more favorable light — what are your options?
It was with great interest that I recently read a Harvard Business Review article from June 2013 called “How to Give a Killer Presentation,” written by Chris Anderson, the curator of TED Talks.
The article drove home the point that effective presentation skills can make or break a speaker — no matter what industry or his or her level.
Anderson first tells the story of a painfully shy 12-year-old Masai boy from Kenya with very limited English, who had such an amazing story to tell that he was invited to give a TED talk. He was coached how to do so successfully. When the boy finally gave his talk one year later to a packed house of 14,000 people (probably all native English speakers at that), the audience hung on every word and leapt to their feet with a standing ovation at the end.
Presentations to senior management can be a vital part of moving ahead in your career, a true make-or-break-it moment.
These nerve-wracking opportunities remind me of one of my favorite quotes from former President John F. Kennedy:
“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” ~John F. Kennedy
Indeed, presenting to senior management presents both danger and opportunity. I suspect you are already well aware of the danger, so let’s talk instead about how to make the most of this potentially career-building opportunity.
Presenting to senior management is different than presenting to your team, your department, or your local PTA or other community organization.
Here are six important things to remember when presenting to senior management: