Contentment, sorrow, fear, tension: emotions might influence us more than we would wish for. And herein lies the problem: when there is an important meeting lined up for us and we are assaulted by negative emotions, chances are our words and body language will convey that, which might compromise our performance during a key moment.
If you seek advice from someone experienced at speaking in public, you will probably hear you must be self-confident and control your sense of insecurity and anxiety. But that is easier said than done. That is why we have prepared some very useful tips, so you get ready to deliver your message more assertively in that important meeting.
Look people in the eye and be eloquent
The answer to have a better performance in a meeting is empathy, i.e. connect with someone else to understand their opinions and emotions. And to establish a connection, one must know how the body “speaks”. Looking away from the audience, using a ho-hum tone, too many gestures, and being unexpressive, for instance, might divert people’s attention from you.
Train the brain to succeed
This is another very useful tip. Some neuroscience studies have scientifically proved the human brain is uncapable of differentiating real from imaginary situations. It is emotional intelligence: if you tell yourself the meeting will be a disaster, the probability it happens is higher. For the brain, concerns are facts – even if accommodated in the subconscious mind.
Instead, the day before the meeting, rehearse: deliver your talk out loud and use the appropriate body language – neutral body alignment, friendly facial expression, and gestures that reinforce the message. By doing that, your brain will be familiar with the situation when the time comes.
Shoulders back, chest out!
Keeping a flat back or starring at the floor during a meeting might send forth the worst possible message to your audience. Therefore, you should keep the back straight and the head parallel to the floor to pass on reliability, which will cause your body to believe you are relaxed and confident.
Moreover, you should pay attention to the details and avoid making gestures that might make listeners feel you are accusing them of something. Try to be comfortable, as if you were talking to someone you know. It will ease the emotional connection between you and your audience.
Words, too, must be trained
A good body language is worth nothing if verbal language is not fine-tuned, right? Emotional intelligence also plays a role here. If you have depreciative thoughts regarding your performance, you will probably get anxious and stumble over your words. So, once again, try to picture a good performance.
Another tip would be to watch out for an overabundance of information. As the key speaker, you are obviously an expert in the subject matter of the meeting, however excessive information might have a negative effect on the audience.
Again, be empathic: what is interesting to my audience? How can my presentation help them solve their problems? Answering these questions will help you give a better orientation to your speech.
Be ready for hostile behaviors
Eventually in a meeting, we run into individuals who like to challenge speakers. You must be ready for them, and, once more, empathy is the way to go.
Whenever it happens, try to understand their standpoint. It will help you realize their intention is not to inflict something on you, but to settle some specific need of their own, most frequently an unconscious one. It is easy to assume somebody wants to confront us, but that is not what usually happens; we are the ones who feel challenged.
In the heat of the moment, try to keep calm. We suggest you observe the language your listener applies: consider the person’s emphasis, looking for evidences of what is behind his/her collocations. You will probably come to know what had triggered that reaction, which, at first, seemed offensive. By recognizing the source of his/her dissatisfaction, you can restore your speech, or even defer to some of his/her arguments.
Finally, an advice that usually has great outcome: encourage audience’s engagement by asking questions. Questions are thought-provoking and help get people’s attention. You may invite the audience to “get inside” the reasoning of your presentation or even ask them to share their opinion, offering a trade. This is another way of strengthening empathy with the audience.
Remember: a meeting begins with a well-prepared speaker. And, if you really master the topic, no setback should prevail over your confidence. Rehearse to exhaustion, get familiar with the situation and focus on establishing an empathic relationship with your listener. If you do so, the success of your presentation will be just around the corner!