18 Jul Action Plan Ideas to Improve Your Leader Voice
Part 2 Blog Series of “The 8 Nuances of An Effective Leader Voice”
All Eyes on You and Natural Charm & Witt
Let’s say you are quite comfortable being in the limelight and presenting, but you tend to be rather dry, direct and a deliverer-of-the-facts-only kind of presenter. Many with engineering and financial backgrounds share these traits. First, it is important to own these distinctions. Since you are an adult whose personality traits cannot be changed in a dramatic way, you cannot be trained to be naturally witty, charming and at great ease in telling stories. You can, however, make clear improvements with your strengths and make some inroads in your inherent gaps. Below are some developmental suggestions for the dry, informational presenter:
- Keep your presentations short! Do not drag or drone on with excessive facts! Try to:
- make your presentation as concise as possible; use bulleted information bites of information only; use pictures — they are better than words on slides; and, if you feel compelled to provide details, offer these in hand out materials and do not include in presentation slides
- take frequent breaks
- break up the presentation segments by adding discussion or problem solving sessions to engage and energize attendees.
- Co-present or join with, when possible, someone who is naturally more compelling and at ease. It can add an entertaining mix to have two opposing styles in action. Do not co-present with someone who is similarly an “informational” presenter. (Many years ago I, along with a number of energy industry executives, attended a several day session titled “Introduction to Coal Mining” taught by two information presenter style engineers. It was excruciating, nearly painful, to sit through.)
- Make sure meetings are well facilitated so that the pace moves effectively with participation and energy levels kept high.
- Practice your presentations – videotape and watch yourself. Audio record. You can do this in the car with your I-phone. Re-do. Listen. Watch your videos. Get feedback from others. What can be improved? Test new approaches. Practice more to increase your confidence.
- Find a mentor or coach to give you feedback and candid suggestions.
- With your key stakeholders, be open about your communications approach as an information provider. Ask for feedback and ideas. Share your newly established goals and ask for their support and suggestions.
- Consider changing the openings to your presentations. Do not start with the facts and introductions as you normally would. Start with an outcome that went badly or a personal experience that might intrigue attendees. Share the impact and lessons learned. Then, move into the related subject matter. This naturally gains more interest of the meeting participants than beginning with a standard “Hello, my name is Nancy and I am going to talk to you about wigets, colored wigets, fat and skinny wigets… snooze, snooze…”
- Book Recommendation & Presentation Training: the above suggestion about changing your opening and many more highly effective approaches, can found in the book: “Own the Room” by Deborah Shames and David Booth. They also provide exceptional workshops & personal coaching to improve your presentation skills should this be a significant part of your job requirements. Their firm is “Eloqui”. Their workshops involve a great deal of practice, new techniques and lots of feedback.
You can improve your Leader Voice if you are committed to doing so. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, get feedback, formulate action plans, and include lots of practice to gain confidence and to improve your skills. Join organizations like ToastMasters or others to get practice presenting to a live audience. Like it or not, being an effective presenter is pivotal to leadership success so perhaps it is time for you to get to work.
In the first blog post of this 3-part series, “The 8 Nuances of An Effective Leader Voice” (characteristics & motivational facets) were described in detail for you to explore and determine your strengths and gaps. The categories of the 8 Nuances are:
2. All Eyes On You
3. Natural Charm & Witt
7. Executive Presence & Inspirational Approach
8. Visibility, Fame & Being Center of Attention