Body Language Makes a Difference When You Present

Body language consists of several different elements:

  • Posture: how you stand
  • Facial expressions: whether you’re smiling or frowning, or just looking like a deer in the headlights
  • Eye contact: if you’re looking at people in the audience without ignoring any part of the room
  • Gestures: what you’re doing with your hands
  • Movement: what you’re doing with your body (are you nervously pacing, or doing a little dance with your feet?)
  • Voice – how you project, how fast you’re talking, how much you enunciate, how you vary your voice

Your body language should tell the same story as your words. So when you’re trying to develop and demonstrate confidence, your body should help you rather than undermine that. And the first step is to become aware of your body language.

For example, I had one client who was completely unaware that as he presented, he rolled his sleeves up and down. So I said to him at the end of a presentation, “Do you know what you’re doing with your hands?” and he said, “No.” And I said, “Look at your sleeves. One’s up and one’s down!” And he said, “Did I do that?” My response was, “Yes, you did. And until we can fix this, wear short sleeves.”

Sometimes you’re so worried about what you’re going to say or you’re so nervous that you don’t realize that you are sending a message that undercuts your authority. If you’re in front of an audience and you don’t make eye contact, and you’re not sure what to do with your hands and your voice is really soft, you are not conveying confidence.

And if your words are fine, but your body language isn’t, the audience gets confused, and they must just believe the body language, “Well, you know, she said X but she didn’t sound too sure of herself, so I’m not sure we need to go with that.”

Once you become aware of it, you can work on improving it while still keeping it natural and unstilted. Think of body language as a means to communicate your message, rather than an end in itself.

So the next time that you have to present, make sure your body language tells the same story and doesn’t undermine your message.

Teamwork Begins: With Overcoming The Assumption That Conflict Will Not Be Present

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

~ Andrew Carnegie

What is it like to be a part of a healthy team or work environment? What is the roadmap for an effective team? Can a group of people with different personalities get along and work productively? How does the leader mobilize to keep everyone on the path of success and away from conflict?

How do you define a team? “A number of persons associated together in work or activity”.

A team can be defined as a group of individuals who are committed to a specific goal or purpose for which they are mutually accountable. High function teams recognize they can be productive when they work together and remove the “I” from teamwork. Effective teamwork is fundamental to achieving clear results. Research studies and expert opinions have noted teamwork increases effectiveness. Teams are more probable to achieve more than individuals. Attainment of the collection of skills and knowledge from a number of individuals contribute to a team’s foundation.

Teamwork begins with overcoming the assumption that conflict and disagreements will not be present. It has been known that no two individuals think the same, despite how much they have in common. Instead of seeing conflict as a threat, we should view conflict as an opportunity of growth for individuals. The aim is to provide teams and individuals with the knowledge to work together in harmony by improving their teamwork skills. Leaders, who understand the value of a healthy workplace that thrives with minimal employee conflicts, also recognize that conflict resolution is a necessary component of the workplace and when conflicts go unaddressed, they have a negative impact on the team and individuals.

An effective team is vital to the quality of work productivity. Managing an organization can be distressing, if not approached with the proper tools and knowledge. Positive communication can improve relationships and build trust. The opposite is also correct negative communication can weaken bonds and create mistrust. The aim is to reduce conflict caused by the lack of proper communication. A framework of positive management approaches is essential when challenged with individual behaviors, and providing equity and impartiality are crucial.

A successful team requires a strong foundation. The essential components are leadership, cohesion, accountability, and resources. The leader provides stability of action by empowering the team with clear communication of the goal, overcoming team objections, providing resources, and group inspiration. Helping teams perform effectively requires the understanding that team formation takes time. Whether your team is temporary or permanent by understanding the stages and the journey you will enhance its productivity.

Making An Effective PowerPoint Presentation

I’ve designed PPT presentations for companies that included all the information they wanted the “audience” to learn, and did it in what I thought was an intelligent and well-planned-out format. It began and ended utilizing a logical order of slides that included running subtleties that appeared on each one, cleverly designed to persuade the viewer in low-key ways, eventually wrapping up the presentation in a final slide pitch for their business.

Each slide provided all the information necessary to educate the viewer in that category, supporting graphic(s) or picture(s), and a repeating header/footer that reminded them each time what the product was and what company was making the presentation. What I learned was this might be great for sending out a PPT movie where having the absence of a presenter was expected, but when it came to the real hands-on, down-and-dirty deed of facing your audience, some of the business-as-usual did not apply.

Consider the preferences of the person responsible for the actual delivery of the presentation; sometimes it might be a member of the company, other times it might be a professional sales organization. In either case, the individual who has the task of delivering the message usually has their own delivery style, and that my friends, is the person you have to please if you’re going to have a chance at success.

When the outcome of a PowerPoint presentation is in your hands, you get to decide on its final content. You can keep the graphic and pictorial support, but the written content has to reflect your “style” of delivery. I’ve found that most seasoned professionals like it to include brief bulleted text rather than paragraphs of copy. It gives that person the ability to speak on every subject and keep the attention on themselves, eliminating dead time while waiting for their audience to read the message in varying degrees on their own. They like to continuously hold the floor, not create awkward periods of silence while some take longer to read than others.

So the next (or first) time you consider making a PowerPoint presentation for any reason, consider the delivery method and consider the person who’s going to make the delivery. Check with that person for their basic preferences before embarking on the design. Remember, it’s not only the look of the slide content that will sway your audience but the combination of your slides and the convincing nature of your presenter. It’s a partnership that must be considered if the outcome is to prove successful.