If you are an entrepreneur or marketer, chances are you have spoken in front of a group of people. But, in all those pitches and presentations, have you ever thought about your eyebrows?
Until a few days ago, I hadn’t.
In partnership with the NW Food Processors Association, we hosted a training for local food and beverage brands titled: The CEO’s Powerful Communication Workshop: How Does YOUR Brand Impact Your BRAND?
Our facilitator was Bill Graham, a soap opera creative director turned pitch whisperer. Bill was incredibly engaging and effective. He offered research- and experience-based tips for improving face-to-face communications. He illustrated his points through stories that were often self-deprecating, but always real.
Bill’s secret? He was not always a likeable, good presenter. Being disliked is where it all began for him. Behind what he described as his angry jail face, formed by the two lines between his eyebrows, he thought he was acting professionally. But a colleague told him his demeanor was actually making people hate him. So he learned to transform himself through hard work and lots of practice.
Knowing this put the group at ease. Basically, if he could go from hated to great, we could surely get better. And we did. In one day. By the end of the day, our presentations had us laughing, goose-bumpy and moved to tears.
There’s no substitute for Bill’s live workshop, but here are a few tips you might want to try the next time you’re presenting:
- Remember that communication is a result, not an activity. It’s your job to make sure you are understood. It’s not the listener’s job. This is counter to the common notion that communication is a two-way street. Put the burden on yourself to be understood.
- Your eyebrows matter. He taught us the “Open Face,” with both eyebrows slightly raised and curious. This communicates interest and openness.
- “Powerpoint Voice” is deafening. Yup, there’s a monotone, projecting tone of voice a lot of us use when leading a professional talk. Instead, speak like you’re having a conversation. Make eye contact with individual people and hold it for a couple of seconds.
- Don’t prove you are a professional, prove you are a human being. Tell a story. Be helpful.
- Use precision speech. Imagine you are making boxes around your words. Don’t let your tone trail off or jumble sounds together.
Bill also taught us the importance of giving and receiving compliments. So, thank you, Bill, for turning your hard work becoming a great speaker into training that helps the rest of us too.