In my previous post, I wrote about how the previous TV debate between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney serves as a great example that sometimes style beats substance.
So, in this post, I would like to share with you some of my own experience on the importance of delivery. And, offer some practical advice on how you can prepare yourself to perform great on your next speech, presentation, or presidential debate.
I experienced the importance of style and body language first hand as a young business executive in a large corporation. This was in 2002 during a quarterly business review for my company’s executive staff.
At that time, I was managing a business unit, which was a new venture for the company; the closest thing to a start-up within a large company. Also, it was the darling of the CEO. Hence I enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from him directly, and his entire executive team.
Our business was successful and we enjoyed a dominant market position in a relatively nascent industry. During the US recession of 2001-3, we were still growing, albeit at a slower rate than before.
On the day of the aforementioned business review, I was feeling low. I was going through some family crisis at the time and it was taking a toll on me. Therefore, it had an adverse effect on my presentation that day. I was subdued. It was easily picked up by my audience, including the CEO himself.
After I completed my presentation he pointed out that he’s never seen me so subdued and unenthusiastic about my business. His perception was that I’ve lost some confidence in the business and its future prospects. This was obviously far from the truth. However, my explanations were unable to change that perception. A year later, my business was sold to another large corporation.
It was an important lesson for me. It taught to effectively use my body language and style to support my messages. And, as a result, generate the perception I want my audience to have of me and my business.
Here are some useful tips in preparing for your next big performance:
Prepare yourself physically. Be healthy; get sufficient sleep and rest prior to your presentation. On the day itself, eat light food and drink plenty of water.
Prepare yourself mentally. You need to be passionate about your purpose. In addition, be clear about what you want to achieve with this presentation. Be confident and comfortable with your messages.
Make yourself comfortable. Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good about yourself, your favorite shirt, tie, or suit. Choose a speaking position you are comfortable in, whether standing, using a podium, or sitting. Whatever position you choose, make sure your posture and body language project confidence and comfort. This will make your audience feel confident and comfortable as well.
Work on your delivery. Be comfortable in delivering your messages. Make sure they are short, concise and clear. Use short and simple sentences; use simple words that are easy to pronounce and understand. Also, know your key messages by heart.
Practice, practice, practice. Need I say more?
Break a leg!