EVERYONE desires to create a presence that is powerful and unforgettable yet one other people can relate to.
As successful individuals, there are a few ways we can establish our authority and credibility within the crucial first four seconds of a presentation.
These ways would fulfil the four “languages” of human communication, namely the visual (for example, excitement), auditory (eloquence and clarity), auditory digital (data- or evidence-driven) and kinesthetic (feelings).
If all four languages of human communication are spoken, you will have managed to captivate 100 per cent of your audience.
Here are 10 ways to an authoritative presentation:
Check your posture and stance
In the animal kingdom, the fastest, strongest and biggest survive. We can mirror this by standing up straight and tall to take up as much “space” as possible. How we place our feet makes a difference too. The champion stance for women is recommended, with one foot in front of the other, 10cm to 15cm apart. Men should adopt a stance which is 20cm apart.
Adopt the power position
Your hands should be clasped and placed in front of your navel. This is what is called the power position and all hand gestures must start from this position and return when they are not needed.
With this position, you will exude a sense of calmness, similar to the “ready” position in martial arts. An example of this is the “choombi” position in taekwondo.
Hand gestures must never be excessive and too big. They should be kept within the power zone which spans horizontally across the shoulders, and vertically between your shoulders and waist.
Smile and nod less
You don’t want to appear overly eager by overdoing the smiling and nodding. This gives the impression that you are desperately trying to impress and please your audience.
Establish eye contact with everyone in the room
If you are speaking to a small group of about 30 people, make it a point to look at everyone at least once during your speech. Spend one to three seconds or move on when you notice the colour of the person’s eyes. No one should be left feeling ignored or neglected.
An expressionless speaker brings no joy to his listeners. Connect with your audience by speaking as if you are in an animated conversation with them. Move your eyebrows or scrunch up your nose, for example. Express emotions that are appropriate to the message you are delivering.
Look the part
Dress with style and elegance, and ladies, don’t be afraid to look beautiful. Invest in clothes that look expensive but don’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Enunciate and articulate words clearly
There has to be a clear distinction between long and short vowels (such as “caught” and “cot”). It is our responsibility to speak with clarity; consonants, for example, need to be deliberately enunciated. An example is the distinction between the words “ghost” and “ghosts” (your audience should hear both the “t” and final “s” sounds).
Mispronunciations and grammatical errors such as subject-verb disagreement (for example, “The people is …”) will damage your credibility. Avoid this at all costs.
Speak with a down tone, not an up tone
If you record your voice and discover you have been ending every sentence with an up tone, stop. In English, an up tone is usually used when asking questions. If an up tone is used in a sentence, the impression generated could be that of immaturity, unintellectual ability and lack of conviction. Use the down tone to enhance your credibility and to mean what you say.
Use a low-pitched voice and vary your voice tone
It is well known to many charismatic speakers that a lower-pitched voice suggests credibility, intelligence, reliability and trustworthiness.
In addition to voice pitch, vary your voice tone though pace (fast and slow) and volume (loud and soft). Pauses should be used for dramatic impact or suggesting you are thinking or “listening” to your audience. To demonstrate more conviction, try placing greater emphasis or stress on important content words.
If these 10 ways are too much to practise at once, try one strategy a day. Within the next 10 days, you will be on your way to creating an even more authoritative presence.
Article by Daisy Teh, the founder and principal consultant of Margaret Stanley Language Consultancy. It is a summary of her presentation at Athena Network on March 18. For more information, visit www.margaretstanleylanguageconsultancy.com