Image and perception are important; there’s no doubt that our judgements are based on how people project themselves.
Whether it’s David Cameron at his first Tory Conference as Prime Minister or the trapped Chilean Miners (who have apparently already received some form of training to handle the media when they are rescued), our public presentation is always being measured, evaluated and scrutinised.
Along with the more technical side of the training we deliver, we are often asked to help our media or presentation delegates with their ‘personal impact’, which is far less about the colour tie you wear (in case you are interested; purple is apparently the ‘in’ colour these days) or how you make an entrance into a room, it’s actually giving people the confidence to face their audience with authority and assurance. While there are very few ‘natural presenters’ it’s very rare that delegates can’t discover this strength or ability within themselves when coached.
Gordon Brown’s poor public speaking/communication skills are still criticised (not least in training sessions) and it almost seems unfair to compare his style to Cameron’s – however, many credit Cameron’s talent for public speaking with gaining votes – and this was certainly true for Nick Clegg who surged in popularity after his performance in the Leaders Debates (the jury is still out on Ed Miliband, but so far he doesn’t quite seem to have the personal impact of his brother).
People often think that the same abilities aren’t so important in the business world, they think that little or no preparation will still allow them to get across their messages to an audience who probably sits through dozens of similar ‘presentations’ on a weekly basis and in reality just can’t wait for the next one to end. Those ‘in the know’ understand how much difference even a little personal impact can make, you don’t necessarily have to have the talents of Bill Clinton to communicate but with a little thought (and perhaps some training!) any presentation can benefit from an injection of personality and become memorable.
One technique run through with our Bluewood delegates is called “Perfecting the Soundbite’ which might sound like we are trying to prepare people for a pitch on Sky News, but is actually a process that helps them learn to concisely AND clearly communicate their key messages. Once you can do this, you can communicate to your audience, whatever the subject, medium or scenario. This is hugely valuable for all fields of life, not least the business world, and you never know when that 2 minute intro in a bar will translate into a business opportunity….
Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – October 2010