Open hearted communication – does that sound a bit unprofessional to you? I don’t mean that you need to be overly emotional, or inappropriately affectionate with your audience. But you need to be honest and authentic – open for them to receive who you truly are and for you to receive them and their ideas, needs, and expectations.
How do I recommend that you BE open hearted? We’ll cover three aspects:
- Body Language
You need to dress according to the parameters that your company has established, even to the point of a uniform or attire with the company logo. Use these suggestions as best you can.
Open heart starts at the neck and goes to mid-body. You do NOT need to expose your skin! But be aware of the number of layers that are between you and your audience. A shirt or blouse is one layer. A tie or scarf wrapped around your neck is another. A jacket, especially buttoned, is another. A necklace with multiple strands or large beads, another. An outfit can put people off, or draw them to you, before they even hear you speak. Review your appearance carefully. You need to feel comfortable and empowered in what you wear. But after you’ve made those choices, look at yourself from the audience’ point of view. Don’t cover yourself with too many layers, building a wall between you and your audience.
Once you’ve considered what to wear to keep your heart space open, the next area to consider is your body language. Practicing in front of a mirror or video camera will be a big help. Be aware if how you stand – are you closed, covering yourself by hiding behind a lectern or holding notes or display items in front of you? How much time do you spend with your arms crossed, one arm crossing your body to hold onto the opposite arm, or hands clasped in front of you? Open up, using your arms to reach out to the audience, to the sides as well as in front of you. Use wide sweeping motions to include many people. Make eye contact with all areas of the room, not just the people on the front row.
Are you ready to act like a talk-show host? While you speak, you move among your audience. If they ask a question, be right there ready to answer.
Your words are important. Choosing inclusive words, saying “we” instead of “you.” Ask your audience to respond to your information. Are they simply in “receive” mode, or is there a real two-way conversation happening? Avoid using words that judge (often we throw these in as filler while we think, not meaning to offend) like: obviously, of course, should, as I said.
Watch your verb the tense. Instead of using passive voice, “Someone once said…” directly quoting them, “Gandhi said, ‘We must be the change we seek.’ “ Keep your tense consistent through out your presentation and make clear simple statements.
Using these three components to help you connect with your audience will support you in sharing your message effectively.
(c) 2012, Kimmey Training and Consulting, LLC. Peggy Kimmey is a public speaking coach for business people. She shows clients how to take the “eek” out of public speaking and become more effective communicators.
Contact Peggy at www.kimmeyconsulting.com