You’re an executive. You engage successfully with colleagues, employee, and clients every day. So what in the world could you possibly learn from my four-year-old daughter, Lulu?
Well, think about this: Every four year old on the planet can tell a story with enthusiasm and with animation. So, at what point in our adult careers do we apparently accept that business presentations should be dry and emotionless?
Take these tips from Lulu, and your presentations will become more persuasive, more memorable and more effective!
- Keep it simple.Lulu has the vocabulary of, well, a four-year-old. And while I’m not advocating you break your words down quite that far, it’s important to consider that every audience is a lay-audience. Stay away from technical jargon or shop-talk. Just because your staff has been describing it as the “business development solutions ecosystem” doesn’t mean anyone else will have the slightest idea what that means. (And I did not make that example up!)
- Put some heart into it.No matter what the topic, the child storyteller is always passionate. Are you presenting record year-end profits? Then get excited! Are you urging your team to meet increased sales goals? Then be compassionate and encouraging. Infusing your presentation with emotion is not about wearing your heart on your sleeve, it is about connecting with your audience. Remember, the first rule of human behavior is that people make decisions emotionally.
- Along with her vocal intensity, Lulu instinctively uses her body. Her arms stretch out wide, for example, when she exclaims, “The dog was HUGE.” Take your hands off of the podium and add some emphasis. Not wild hand-waving, of course, but consider adding broad deliberate gestures, varied postures and movement, enhanced facial expressions and other forms of non-verbal communication to punch up your presentations.
- Tell a story.Dinner time is never dull when Lulu tells us a story. You may find this counterintuitive, but when in doubt, cut some information from your presentation and tell a heartfelt story instead. Make it personal. Make it tie into your message. But do tell a story. Your audience will thank you, and more importantly, they will remember what you have to say.
My husband is quick to point out that not everything our daughter does makes for a good presentation. And he’s absolutely right. So, coming up next time: “Four things Lulu does that you should NOT incorporate into a business presentation.”
(MarketPoint associate Gina London is an Emmy-award-winning veteran CNN correspondent and anchor, who provides presentation and media training for executives, politicos and thought leaders. She’s also a wife and a mom.)