Archive for the 'Executive Presence' Category

Feb 09 2017

You Are Not Your Slide Deck

Published by under Executive Presence

dreamstime_m_143850When I was first introduced to presentations in the business world I was appalled. I realized that people thought that their slide deck was their presentation. As a musician, that would be like assuming the piece of music you’re playing is the only thing that matters, when in reality, how you stand, your body language and of course, your talent and the way you play your instrument are hugely important. That’s why we pay big money to go see performers on stage. Even why you walk on the stage is important, as Stanislovski pointed out.

I apply the same approach to executive coaching. You want to be seen as a leader? You have to act and talk like a leader, and be clear about why you are there. Through my work, I’ve developed a simple formula to use to make sure you show up that way…simple, but requiring a shift from “content is king.” It is so powerful that 80% of my clients get promoted or move on to a preferred position.

The powerful secret sauce: For greatest vocal impact (my term for finding your voice in a noisy world), align your intention, content, and delivery.


That’s it.

Here is how it works. Intention is the why, content is the what, and delivery is the how. You have to get them all to agree with each other; the result is authenticity, trustworthiness, and executive presence.

Here’s an example of how it works: Let’s say you need to introduce a new project to your team and you want them to believe it’s a great opportunity. In fact you are excited about it. You can tell them that but if you say that you’re excited with a flat, lifeless delivery, they won’t believe you! You must authentically feel excited and sound excited. And I will remind you that intention can be heard and felt even without words– If your intention isn’t clear or you have ulterior motives, people can sense it.

Most business people think more about getting their content right than anything else. On the other hand, the effect of the alignment of intention, content, and delivery can be seen in the successful performing artists that we admire, such as Lady Gaga, YoYo Ma, Beyonce or (insert your favorite here.) What’s more, they take it straight to the bank.
© Andres Rodriguez | – business man appearing on laptop

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Aug 08 2016

What to do after you screw up that first impression

Published by under Executive Presence

dreamstime_s_52454650From the first moment you open your mouth to speak, people are judging you. They are deciding who you are based on what they hear– geographic origin, your gender, your education, your emotional state, etc.– which influences whether or not they can relate to what you say, even if you’re not a politician.  Those first 30 seconds are your chance to make a good impression. Conversely, you always run the risk of a first impression that creates a situation where you have to prove yourself over and over again in order to gain respect and attention.  Stuff happens.

The mic fails, technology doesn’t work, the lighting is bad, you open your mouth and nothing comes out, you can’t see your notes– all of these are real possibilities. So what do you do if something like that happens to you? You can just walk off stage after a technology problem, as did action film director Michael Bay at CES in Las Vegas, creating a more embarrassing situation.  Or you can stay up there and carry on.  Even though “you never have a second chance to make a first impression,” how you handle that moment makes or breaks your credibility and your ability to influence.

You can find some answers for dealing with the various manifestations of voice malfunctions in my series, “Who Let the Frogs Out?”  Otherwise, here are three ways to handle an opening crisis and turn it into a positive:

Surprise people. Be transparent about the situation. Make a joke about the technology. Stop and fix the slides or go on without them. One of my clients reminded the audience of how Peter Pan brought Tinkerbell back from the brink of death and had the audience clap while the lighting crew got the lights back on. Adapted from “4 Ways to Overcome a Bad First Impression,” by Dorie Clark

Get personal. If nerves caused a problem, say so. The famous jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald, was immensely insecure. Years ago, I heard her in concert and she started her set by saying “I’m a little bit nervous tonight.” Those words put both her and the audience more at ease.

Have Faith. You are the expert, which is why you are up there talking. You don’t have to know what you don’t; you can have faith in your ability to speak to what you DO know. If something goes wrong technically, let the experts handle it and you focus on your part. If you see your boss in the audience and feel insecure and stumble, recover by remembering that you don’t have to know what your boss knows; your job is to be of service to those listening by sharing what YOU know.

Finally, preparation is the key to success in performance and public speaking. The better you prepare, the more capable you are of handling the issues that may arise when all the eyes are on you. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”


For more on this topic,

Please see my series on this blog, Who Let The Frogs Out?

Guest post by Gary Genard,  Want to find your voice as a speaker? You may need some tough love.

5 Ways to Unlearn Stage Fright

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