Presentation Skills: How Do You Make Others Feel?

SkyeTeam Leadership Development

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ― Maya Angelou

I first heard this quote when I was a teenager, and I have never forgotten it. The essence being that we are at our best when our primary focus is on connecting with those who are around us on any given day. If we can make this our priority, we will be successful in our personal and professional lives. This quote can be applied to any situation in your life, but following are specific examples that especially resonate for me.

1. Bring YOU to Your Presentation

When we prepare for a presentation, we focus on what we are going to say and how we are going to say it. We think about our audience and how our message will be perceived. Will I be a credible speaker? Will they be interested in what I have to say? All of these are extremely important factors that must be fully considered before delivering an effective presentation. However, there is something of greater importance. How do you want your audience to feel after you speak? Recently, as a colleague was delivering a Powerful Presentations workshop for a client, I thought about something that had never occurred to me before. Yes – the audience is interested in your message, but they really want to know you and understand who you are. They want to feel something. Do you have the courage to expose a little bit more about yourself through your presentation? I challenge you to focus less on the image your want to portray in your presentation and focus more on showing who you really are. If you bring “you” to your presentation, the audience will be more connected to your message.

What can you do? Practice! If you practice and know your content, you can worry less about the words you are saying and focus more on being present and interacting with the audience. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be.

2. Get Your Head out of Your Apps

I first saw this clever statement on the electronic sign hanging over the highway as I drove to the airport. This is not only for drivers; it is for any of us when others are around. This immediately brings to mind the average business meeting when three quarters of the team are not paying attention – they have their head in their apps. Some are texting their friends, some working, others sending that one “quick” email, or possibly checking Facebook. Have you ever tried to explain something in a meeting and no one is paying attention? Even worse, did they ask you questions about what you just explained? How did you feel?

Another example: Have you attended a one-on-one meeting and the other person (who is working on his computer and not looking at you) says, “Go ahead – I’m listening,” and then continues to work? This is when you begin speaking, hide the carefully crafted presentation you brought to share, and leave out half of what you were planning to say – only to have to repeat yourself and distill the message even further when he decides to actually join the conversation.

Okay, I have been waiting to get this off of my chest for years; so, here we go…this is rude and unacceptable! I boldly proclaim that multitasking does NOT work when it comes to building effective relationships. You may think others don’t notice, but it sends a subtle message that this interaction is not important.

What can you do? Be present in the conversation. Be alert in meetings. Listen! If someone is speaking to you, put your electronic devices away. Don’t interrupt time spent together to take a call, send a quick text, or email. Don’t end a phone conversation to take another incoming call.

 3. What’s Going on Around You?

Do you talk to and pay attention to the people who serve you meals or wash your car, and anyone else you encounter throughout your day? Are you talking on your phone when you go through the drive thru? Do you engage your front-line employees in conversation? Did you thank the security guard who helped you get into the building this morning when you forgot your badge? Did you look at the homeless person sitting outside of your office? Make a list of every single person you encountered in the last 24 hours. How was your interaction with each person? How did you make them feel? Did you bring your “whole self” to the conversation or were you simply rushing to get on to the next thing? I have my good days and bad days, but I am simply encouraging you to acknowledge where you are and begin to remember this simple idea that can make a world of difference.

What can you do? Pay attention to others. Express gratitude to those who serve you every day. Be present with your colleagues, family, teammates, the people who serve you meals or wash your car, and anyone else you encounter throughout your day. Don’t miss the moment.

This post was first published on LinkedIn