Increase your influence when you present or pitch with these simple communication tips.
Have you ever pitched a great idea only to have it fall flat? Or maybe you’ve given an important presentation and your key message didn’t resonate?
Influencing the ideas, views and decisions of others is a skill. No-one is born the perfect influencer, rather they develop a set of skills over time – made up of verbal and non-verbal gestures – that help others to agree with them more often.
With increased awareness, effort and practice you can grow your influencing skills as well. Here are some useful ideas to help you increase your influence so that you feel more confident the next time it counts.
Focus on your audience – not yourself
It doesn’t matter if you are presenting around a leadership table or to a large room of people – your audience is there to obtain the information you are providing. Make sure that they are your focus, overly focussing on you will just make you feel nervous. Focus on them – What you plan to share? What they are likely to hear? What is most important for them? How you can keep them engaged and interested throughout? This will ensure they get more from your presentation and help you feel less nervous.
Put in the hard work to know your stuff
You need to be confident of your subject and true confidence comes from spending time in research. Spend the time knee-deep in your subject matter so that when you get in the room you don’t need to second guess yourself or be worried about unexpected questions. Again, put yourself in your audiences’ shoes to consider what the likely objections or hot topics will be. Practice talking about, and answering, the toughest questions you might get, out loud.
Let your hands help you
More than half of all communication is non-verbal, with some researchers claiming that this figure is as high as 90%. Our bodies can equally aid or contradict our messages. You may be saying one thing but your body betrays your real thoughts. In particular, our hands are a huge contributor to how our message is received, which is why being mindful of the gestures we use can drastically improve the quality of our conversations. Are your hands saying that you are open or thoughtful? Or are they actually shutting down discussion and saying that you are not willing to listen? Becoming intentional with hand gestures will significantly enhance your communication and influencing skills.
Use the language of inclusivity
Many people start sentences with the word “I”, as in “I want to…” or “I am here today….”. When you start with the word “I”, it sends a message that your mindset is all about you and that you are more important than the people you are communicating with. Using more inclusive language like “us, we, our” will help the recipient to be more inclined to listen to you and support you.
Practice, practice, practice
Practice is critical because the quality of your communication won’t come down to content alone, it will be how well you connect with your audience. This connection will come from the words you use, but also your tone, facial expression, stance and, as mentioned, your hand gestures. These all convey how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Video yourself and objectively consider your verbal and non-verbal gestures – are they aligned with your key messages or is something off? Ask a trusted colleague, mentor or coach to help you prepare or review your video and give you feedback.
Learn how to increase your influence and captivate your audience when you present, check out the Colin James Method’s Mastering Communications Program. This program will teach you the skills you need to take your influence to the next level.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.
Shannon is an expert in the realm of Leadership, Development, Diversity and Performance. Using a strength-based approach to building leadership and cultural change, she has over 20 years of experience. She is particularly skilled at building a high-performance revenue generating culture change in organisations.