During an introductory speech for some important clients a few months back, I suddenly found myself losing confidence. This was unusual for someone who has loved the microphone and used it quite often. At home that day, I came across this very meaningful article which made a lot of sense to me. So I thought, sharing it with others in a similar situation, would help them too....
Developing Your Leadership Presence (A Harvard Business Review Article)
What about when you are pushed in front of the microphone or given very little prep time for something like an introduction of a guest speaker?
This question came from Tonya in response to my previous post on developing your leadership pitch.
Here's the quick answer, you walk to the microphone and you smile. You take a moment to size up the audience and then you say what you have to say briefly and to the point. Most importantly, as they advise running backs who score touchdowns, act like you have been there before. The great ones hand the ball back the referee; the wannabes whoop and holler.
At the microphone, remain calm. Why? Because you are in control! Your stomach may be churning and your palms may be sweaty, but you must realize the microphone is in your hands. This is a little secret that I share with people I coach: people have to listen to you. Whether you croon or wax eloquent, the audience is at your mercy.
You are the master of your destiny, or at least the next five minutes. When you keep that thought in mind, you will realize that yes, you can do this. You can speak in front of an audience and you will be okay.
Such behavior is how you cultivate your leadership presence, a topic I address in, Lead Your Boss, The Subtle Art of Managing Up. I define leadership presence as earned authority. You may have a title, but you need to earn the respect and trust of your coworkers. Presence is rooted in fundamental competence, and for anyone who aspires to lead, presence is essential. Developing this is a long process that goes far beyond speaking in public.
Some people confuse presence with charisma, but the two are not the same. The former is developed over time; the latter is what you are born with and is a matter of looks, charm, personality, and appeal. Charisma adds to presence, but you do not need to have movie-star looks to be a person of presence. An example of this was Mother Theresa.
Picture this petite woman in her white sari trimmed in blue. Old and wrinkled, Mother Theresa was never mistaken for royalty. Yet because of her lifetime of work in creating a religious order to care for the "poorest of the poor" in India, she had a radiant presence around her. Her conviction about her work was so strong that she could approach heads of state for funds to run her mission. She also had a wonderful sense of humor which added to her personal warmth.
No matter your looks or body type, you can have presence if you work on your ability to connect with others, from behind a microphone or otherwise. And don't worry if you flub a word, or mispronounce a name. Correct yourself, smile, and keep moving. The audience is yours. So leverage your presence, and be the confident speaker you have always wanted to be.
I've taken some professional help and now my entire aspect of communication is changed. Visit www.intonate.net for more information.