Do you want to be more influential when you present?
Here is the naked truth about influence:
Having all the influencing skills and techniques in the universe is not going to help you a single bit if you are not likable.
A 2008 study in Management Science demonstrated that people watching a presenter are more influenced by the likability of the speaker than by the quality of the speaker’s arguments.
That’s shocking, scary, and true!
One of the best ways to become more influential is to become more likable.
The good news for you:
You can learn to be more likable, and give yourself an advantage in the workplace – imagine having both: good arguments and be likable; that would make you unstoppable.
With knowledge and a little practice, you can become more likability (Even if you are likable already).
Likability doesn’t only help with your presentation influence; it’s also one of the biggest keys to becoming a great leader.
But what is it exactly that makes great speakers so likable and successful, and how can others command this same likability?
Here are the top five traits of well-liked presenters that you can integrate into your presentations to become a more influential public speaker.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brené Brown
Authenticity is very simple yet very hard to pull off. It’s simple because all you have to do is be the same person on stage and off stage. It’s hard because we have been trained since childhood to believe that public speaking is a formal affair. So to be formal, we try to be someone we are not.
I used to do it too…
… Off stage I am personable, I meet people and casually chat with them. But it used to be that when I was on stage, I became Mr. Robot.
Do you do that too?
I learned from acting classes (of all places) that my audience crave to see the real me. When you go to a show, you want to see a natural and authentic performance; you don’t want to see fake laughs, cries, or gestures. The same applies to your audience when you speak.
Now, I don’t try to be too formal on stage; I just be myself. If it means a few “ah’s” and “um’s” will slip in, then so be it. This has made my life much easier because it means that I don’t have to rehearse over. And it made the response I get to my speeches much better.
Here are actual reviews from actual audience members:
This is early in my career when I was trying to be somebody else: I know it’s brutal!
I cringe when I re-read this review, but I want to be open and transparent with you. I keep it to remind myself not be fake anymore.
The following was later in my career when I was more authentic- Much better, right?
Notice the energy level is still high, and it is still very interactive, but now it’s authentic. This is the same exact course but one year later.
If you want to be likable, you need to be genuine. No one likes a fake presenter. It’s hard to connect with someone when you don’t think they are real. To be more trustworthy and relatable, be more real.
Be passionate about what you’re talking about. Sometimes when giving presentations at work it’s hard to be passionate, but if you can find a few things in your presentation that excite you, draw on that excitement and use it throughout your speech.
Also, get passionate about your life in general, and that will help you leak some of that passion into your presentations.
“You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful.” – Steve Garvey
Passion is contagious, and by finding and increasing your passion, you will bring that same energy to those listening to you. When I was in college, I was a biochemistry major and one day my chemistry teacher was talking about the field of Chemical Engineering and how exciting it is. I could sense my teacher’s genuine passion for the field. Because I was not sure about Biochemistry as a major, I left the class that day, and I changed my major to Chemical Engineering, and that’s the degree I finished college with.
If passion can convince me to chose a college major- you can imagine what effect delivering a passionate message will have on your audience.
While it’s okay to talk about the things you’ve accomplished, you want to be sure you don’t build yourself up too much. Let those listening attach ideas and meaning to your actions. There’s no need to shout about your accomplishments, simply state them.
If you want people to like you, then don’t act like you are better than them. People will already put you on a pedestal as a presenter, and it’s important that you don’t let that get to your head.
Being humble does not mean you are weak and not assertive. Not at all. It’s important to be assertive and control the room as the speaker but equally important to manage the room with modesty and respect.
Often, if you can make fun of yourself, you will win some points with your audience. Self-deprecating humor tends to have a positive effect on an audience.
Becoming a likable speaker is all about being able to connect to those that are listening to you. The best way to connect with your audience happens before you open your mouth.
You go to an event, and you see the speaker standing alone in the corner of the room with a frown on his face and arms folded. Would you approach this person without any hesitation?
Of course not. I would run the other direction.
Being approachable and warm is about body language. I use the simple acronym “S.T.A.N.D.” to help me remember this:
Smile at people. Your smile disarms them and makes them think of you as safe to approach.
There is a concept in psychology called social proof. It says that people like to do what they see others doing. So if you start talking to your audience before the presentation starts, others are likely to see and want to do the same with you.
If you have the opportunity, try to meet with those in your audience away from the podium. Try to talk with them before your presentation begins, or offer to talk with them when the presentation is over.
Get closer to your audience. According to the proximity principle, we are more likely to develop a relationship with someone who is in close physical proximity. It’s easier to relate to someone sitting next to you than with someone across the room.
Make sure you get as close as possible to your audience every time you present.
N = Nice
Be nice to others. Don’t be rude.
Sounds basic right?
Speaking is a stressful activity to a lot of people, and it brings out the worst in them. Notice your behaviors and be nice to everyone at the events you are speaking at.
You need to engage your audience, allow them to participate and respond accordingly. Be sure to respond to your audience’s reactions and be nice about it. No one likes a jerk.
D = Down to earth
Being the speaker does not mean you are better than everybody else in the room. Treat everyone with respect and as equals. This is an extension of being Humble.
Be a Storyteller
Everyone likes to listen to a good story. A great presenter knows that to connect with their audience, they need to tell a story. Storytelling is what persuades and influences people to take action. Stories allow you to connect at a deeper level with your audience.
Even if you’re giving a presentation that’s all about facts and numbers, you should never present with only the intention of transferring information. Human beings are emotional creatures, and to make them care enough to listen, you need to evoke some emotion in them. There’s no better way to evoke emotion than with a story.
When you tell a story, both you and your audience are in essence ‘experiencing’ the story. Because of this, storytelling is a great way to engage your audience and cause their brain waves to sync with your own.
By telling your audience a story, you will make yourself relatable to your audience, thus allowing you to gain their support and act on the information given more easily.
When I did process engineering, I learned that the most flexible part of the process ends up controlling the whole process. As a presenter, you have to control the room, but you can’t control it by brute force.
That’s why you have to be the most flexible and adaptable part of the speaking process.
When you’re giving a presentation, things don’t always go exactly as planned. To be a great presenter, you need to be flexible when managing your presentation and be able to change it up when necessary. If your presentation isn’t being well received, you need to know when you should go in a different direction.
The best way to become adaptable is by practicing your speech, but not memorizing it. Memorization tends to cause a hyper-focus on perfection.
Before you work on acquiring more influence skills, work on being more likable. This will boost your influence ability without much effort.
It’s impossible to inspire a group of people to action when you’re not liked by them. So, the next time you have to prepare for a speech remember these 5 Traits of Exceptionally Likable Presenters and try to incorporate them into your presentation so that you can become more an effective and influential speaker.