Speech Smarts

How Subtle are Your Actions?

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Action!  A movie director on set yells this and the scene starts.  Each person knows their part and a moment iscaptured forever or is edited out.  When we take action in front of a live audience, we do not have the luxury of editing out what doesn’t work. It is crucial to take actions which captivate and connect.  Powerful presenters know that subtle actions are often the best actions.  Let’s consider a few ways that little actions can make your presentations more memorable and meaningful.

Begin your presentation by just standing still in silence.  Take a breath and perhaps another. Look at your listeners. Smile inside yourself so wide, your eyes start to smile. Let your smile take over your face.  This small action sets the stage for your presentation.  When you start speaking before you have centered yourself, your presentation is off balance.  You have probably seen a presenter strut on stage, already speaking.  Now this may be a nervous reaction, but it is an unnecessary distraction.  No matter how well you speak, the human eye is drawn to motion.  We watch the action before we listen for information.

Pausing is a technique. Silence is communication.  Most presenters eliminate verbal graffiti by learning to pause.  They realize um’s, ah’s and protracted so’s are distracting.  Serious presenters will plan for silence.  Just like in the movies, the silent moments add depth and drama.  Saying nothing after you have said something meaningful respects your listener’s desire to reflect upon what you have shared.  Learning to pause is an action you take to polish your presentation.  Silence adds meaning to your message.

The final act of your presentation should be like the ending of a film.  It is doubtful that you can create a Hollywood ending every time.  Every detail won’t be resolved, but your resolve needs to be clear.  Give your audience a specific and compelling reason to take action.  Before you stand on center stage decide what you want your audience to feel.  Share that emotion and your listeners will react sympathetically.

Subtle actions such as breathing center you.  Quiet actions such as silence center your audience. Activating your emotions makes you the center of attention and your presentations memorable and meaningful. When the director yells “cut” the action stops but when you act with star like style your message never fades to black.

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About the Author:

David Nemitz has designed and delivered over 10,000 sales presentations, professional development programs and executive coaching sessions for corporations and governmental organizations such as the US State Department, The French Consulate, and American Express. When he is not helping others define and refine their strengths, you can find him watching the sun set over The Magic City or strolling through The City of Light where he lives with his wife Ninette.