The best presenters – think Steve Jobs, Narendra Modi, Barrack Obama – have that elusive trait that sociologists call ‘Presence’, which allows them to obtain the attention and buy-in of their audience. Their public speaking ability is a crucial component of their image.
In this lesson, we will explore the components of presentation delivery that can help you project composure, confidence and competence, or, in short, how you can develop ‘Presence.’
This lesson is in video format.
We recognise that some participants prefer reading to listening. If you are one of them, then you can access a transcript of the lesson by clicking on the View Transcript button below the video.
Presence – What it is & How to Communicate it
Some presenters have what sociologists call ‘presence’.
Presence is the impression that you get from someone, whose manner and appearance communicates competence, capability, confidence and trustworthiness.
The best communicators and some top leaders have it. Think Narendra Modi, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama and others.
Their comportment and their oratory ability inspire confidence. In return, these individuals acquire the respect, trust and buy-in from their audience. They are able to influence thought and action and are often successful in work and in life.
The Elements of Presence in a Presentation
In this lesson, we will look at seven behaviours, which will project you as someone competent and trustworthy.
Deliver your presentation from the ‘Green Zone.’
Now, it will help to learn about the three zones in your presentation. First, there is the black zone, which is anywhere in the room, which makes your audience feel like you have chosen to plant yourself there because you lack confidence, are not being truthful, or that your narrative is lacking in merit. This could be the extreme ends of the room or stage, or someplace furthest from the audience, or leaning against a table or the back of a chair. Avoid the black zone.
Then there is the red zone, which is your audience’s personal space, which, again, is best avoided.
Instead, deliver your presentation from the Green Zone. This is the zone in the room or on the stage, where you are close enough to your audience to make them feel like you are supremely confident and far enough to be outside their personal space. Delivering your presentation from the Green Zone makes you appear confident in yourself and in your narrative.
Maintain open body language.
Avoid appearing ‘closed’ in any manner. So, avoid crossing your arms across your chest, hiding behind a desk or any other object or piece of furniture. These are what we call ‘closed’ behaviours. Ditch the podium. Stand ‘unobstructed’ in front of your audience.
Stand upright as you speak.
If you are truly confident in your narrative, then your carriage should show it. So, maintain an upright posture. Hold your hands clasped lightly and at the level of your diaphragm when you speak. This will prop your shoulders up and make you appear confident. Holding your hands lower will cause your shoulders to droop and make you seem unsure and lacking in confidence. Your gestures, likewise, need to be in the ‘box’ between your face and your mid-section.
Also, avoid clasping your hands behind your back, or sticking them in your pockets. These actions are often construed as you trying to hide something.
Maintain eye contact with your audience.
Use the lighthouse technique here. Sweep your gaze around the room. The key here is to make people feel like you are looking at them. So, look in the general direction of your audience members. Swivel your torso as you speak.
Also, avoid looking only at the friendly faces in the audience, as tempting as that might be. Engage with everyone in your audience.
Who likes a morose speaker? A smile makes you instantly likeable. And, as research shows, likeability is a critical factor in social influence. This is never truer than in a presentation where obtaining audience buy-in is your objective.
Energy and enthusiasm
Nothing causes your audience to tune out faster than a lacklustre, monotonous presentation; one lacking in energy and enthusiasm. And boring your audience is not the most significant fallout of such a presentation. An unenergetic, unenthusiastic presentation is inherently less believable. For, if what you are saying is as great or exciting as you say it then how come your own demeanour doesn’t show that? It makes the audience wonder if you truly believe in your product or idea? Your behaviour will be contradicting your words.
Use the power of the emphasis and pause
The truth is, your audience will not remember the entirety of your narrative. You want them to remember the key points though. So, emphasise the key phrases. And use the power of the pause after you deliver those. This clip will best illustrate the point.
Laying emphasis on the key phrases allows these to register. And the pause at the end of that phrase emphasised provides the ‘space’ for your point to sink in.
You want that. It is the key to ensuring that your concept or product is remembered.
Practice these seven elements of presentation delivery, and you will significantly improve your chances of influencing your audience. It will also help you become the kind of presenter whom people will actively seek out to listen to.