Have you ever wondered why some leaders seem so powerful and others . . . well, weak and timid come to mind (those words don’t paint a pretty picture, do they?). Last week I led a 2-day workshop on creating partnerships. It’s a full-on highly interactive workshop, with lots of learning occurring. One focus of the workshop was to take a ‘stand’ on becoming a better leader. (A stand is something you commit to). At the end of the workshop, the participants were asked to walk to the front of the room and powerfully declare what their stand, as a leader, was. (By the way, they all knew each other and had been together for several days of learning over the past couple of months.) Here’s the kicker though: When declaring their stand, several participants: • Fidgeted, • Stuck their hands in their pockets, • Started speaking before they were at the front of the room!
I get it, speaking in front of a group can be intimidating. And most of us have to do it at some point in our career. So here’s what you need to know:
You don’t need me to tell you but I will . . . ‘that’s not someone people want to listen to.’ Good News! You can become a better leader and speaker by making small changes to improve your body language.
1. Stand Still . . . Really Still
· Especially when you are making an important point
· Fidgeting makes you look untrustworthy
2. Relax Your Hands at Your Sides
• Or use them to enhance your point
• Whatever you do, get them out of your pockets!
• You don’t want the audience to think you are more interested in your car keys or loose change then the point you are trying to make.
3. Pause BEFORE You Speak
• As you stand still (see tip #1), this pause creates anticipation for the audience and allows you to rehearse your first line or to breath and relax
• You can use it before you make an announcement, important point or in response to a question
• When you pause before you speak or answer a question, it shows thoughtfulness and understanding
4. Lock Your Eyes on Your Listeners
• But not in a creepy way
• Look at all of them, as you stand and pause (see how all the tips are blending together? Clever, huh?)
• In the book “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” author James Humes says, “Stand, stare and command your audience and they will bend their ears to listen.”
5. Finally, Use a Strong Steady Voice
• That means making your statement and dropping your voice at the end.
• No Upspeak (not sure what that is, take a quick read on one of my previous articles “Unconscious Confidence Killer”)
These are simple yet powerful tips and in my observation, tips that many people can benefit from. Go ahead, put them into practice and notice the results.
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Our workshop participants found Barb’s approach to teaching at the Centre for Professional Development to be dynamic and engaging. Barb not only taught effective communication and presentation skills, but also role modelled techniques throughout the day. Participants were excited to be able to apply learning’s directly into their day to day roles
Associate Director at the Centre for Professional Development, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.
Your plenary session was a real asset and a great contribution to the success of our National IPAC Conference. From beginning to end participants were energized and actively engaged.
Gwyneth Meyers BSc, MSc, PhD
Scientific Committee Chair
“The workshop was wonderful!! Barb walked the talk by continuously demonstrating the tips and skills she was teaching! It was amazing to see it all come together. I would recommend the workshop to anyone who has to present.”
Bev Waite, Education Lead-Nursing,
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
I told one of the nurse educators that it was the best 3 hours I have spent in a training session as the content was clear, relevant, exactly enough to be able to incorporate into presentations, and you demonstrated each point which was great. It was watching an expert at work.
Aideen Carroll, Advanced Practice Nurse Educator
Toronto General Hospital
Your workshop was also a big hit. It was interesting to hear people talk about it as not good, but great.
CMP Manager of Governance and Events CNA
After working with Barb, our team returned to work energized, enthused and inspired to utilize tools that increase our communication, clarity and relationship with not only each other, but also with the residents and families that we serve. I would highly recommend Barb if you want to bring out the best in your team.
Dale Clements, Administrator
Barb Langlois led a wonderful one day workshop for 45 Clinical Nurse Educators in Saskatoon Health Region. She worked with us in advance to really understand our learning needs, Six months later, I see CNEs using Barb’s techniques to engage learners and I use them myself in my own presentations. I strongly recommend Barb – she is a very skilled facilitator who connects with learners in a very meaningful and effective way.
Margot Hawke RN, BSN, MCEd, Nursing Professional Practice Lead
Saskatoon Health Region
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