How do leaders move others to action? The vast majority of our ability to have impact doesn’t come from the words we say. In fact, most of our ability to have influence comes from habits of which most of us are completely unaware. The bottom line is that we respond to comfortable, committed, accessible people more favorably than to people who seem nervous, bored, or held-back. Everything about us—how we look, sound, move—gives others a reason to listen to us…or not to. This may not sound like a revelation until you consider how self-conscious many of us become when we stand in front of a group to talk.
Many speakers fear silence worse than anything else event during a talk. The irony is that getting comfortable with silence is one of the most powerful tools you have, not only for the impression you make, but also for your ideas to have impact on your listeners.
As you sit down to plan your next important business communication, remember that it’s someone else’s response to what you say that determines your success. What you think is important, innovative, or entertaining only has value for your business if it moves others to take the desired action on your words.
Before you can apply this simple method, you must be clear about your “Hook” or core value proposition for this audience. Media coaches often help executives develop several “messages” that basically lead back to the same place but keep an executive from sounding either like a one-trick pony or a broken record. If you want to try to sell more than one message in your Q&A, make sure they are all congruent with your hook and the result you want for this talk. If not, you will probably get lots of follow-on questions you don’t want to answer.
Right now, in countless hotel meeting rooms, public auditoriums, corporate conference rooms, and small, cramped offices, thousands of competent and otherwise productive executives, managers, and sales people are quietly snoring and drooling on expensive note pads. They sleep because some poor consultant, vendor, partner, or other supplicant is hiding in the dark behind a data projector, “telling them what he’s going to tell them, telling them, and then telling them what he told them” with every word emblazoned on the screen.