You had me before hello


We've all heard the expression, “You had me at hello.”  I firmly believe, when it comes to presentations, that's way too late.  The really great presenters have you even before they say hello.

You see them standing there, before they even say anything you can see there's something quite different about them.  Even before they start, you're intrigued, captivated, leaning forward a little to hear what they’ll say.

It’s their poise, dignity, their self-assuredness, their calm, their focus, it’s the intensity of their presence. 

There are two VPs in a presentation skills workshop that’s running here right now.  Our Lead Trainer, Janet, is leading the session.  I just sat in at the beginning to watch everyone’s first videos.

If you hadn’t told me that either of these two was a VP, I never would have known.  Reason is neither one had executive presence, neither of them communicated with the poise, dignity and elegance you’d expect from a VP level. 

One is a new VP, so you could say that's understandable in their case.  The other has been a VP for a couple years.

In both cases, the material they were presenting, the content, was very interesting.  But the way they presented it wouldn’t have captured you.  You’d be tuning out and only semi-listening pretty quickly.  The audience, trying to pay attention, was fighting a losing battle. 

Both of them sounded very “Corporate” and correct.  They were articulate, but their words weren’t landing or making a difference.  

And that's really the point, isn't it?  When we listen to a presentation, we want what we hear to make a difference, to matter.

I left after their first videos, had meetings all day and went back in at the very end of the afternoon to see their second videos.  Wow!

It’s not what they’re doing.  It’s how they’re being, their presence.  There’s an invisible chemistry.  There’s an aura.  It creates an atmosphere.  It creates a mood.  It creates an expectation, an anticipation.  A promise of something great to come. 

That's how these two VP’s were at the end of the 1st day.  Very changed. 

They had developed presence. Presence strong enough to notice even before they spoke.   Just the way they walked, stood, looked over the audience. 

They each had that unmistakable aura of an executive, the poise, the dignity of a powerful individual who knows what they have to say is important, a comfortable leader, in absolutely no rush, taking their sweet time, self-assured, creating with their presence a promise of a great outcome.

Then, even before they started to speak, the way they looked out into the audience, they made a powerful connection with everyone in the room. Connection made before they ever said a word. 

As they spoke, the connection intensified.  I could swear the audience stopped breathing at a couple of points.

I could feel the audience’s disappointment when their talks were over. They wanted to hear more, but it was gone. You can only imagine the reception they’ll get when they come back to speak again.

It was the same content they’d presented in their first video.  Almost the same words.  Completely different presence.  Completely different connection with the audience.  Completely different result.

Important point – this doesn’t just apply to VP’s.  It’s even more powerful at lower levels.  People really notice.

This really is how to make what you want happen. Have the powerful presence of someone others are eager to know, make a powerful connection with the audience, make them keen to hear your next words, create a never-ending fascination with your message.  Know that it’s not what you say.  It’s how you say it.

Well, that was the end of the first day of training.  I'm looking forward to seeing them at the end of the second.

Wishing you great success with all your communications!