I was reading a legal blog the other day and it talked about how lawyers win cases by appealing to the jury’s “head and heart”. I’ve never worked on a legal presentation, but I suspect there are other things that win the jury over. Juries are like any other group of people. They are very influenced by speakers who appear to be confident. If a lawyer looks and sounds like he/she absolutely believes in what they are saying, the jury is more likely to vote their way.
So it’s not just “head and heart” that you need to appeal to in trying to win someone over, it’s “eyes and ears”. You need to look confident and you need to sound confident. Oddly enough, you don’t actually have to be confident (but it helps).
You’ll look confident if you adopt a few presentation techniques. Try to consciously make eye contact with everyone in the group you are addressing. Don’t talk unless you have that eye contact. It is a human nature trick, but people tend to believe others who look them in the eye. When my kids were young, I knew when they weren’t telling me the truth because they would look down at their feet as they swore they didn’t take the M&Ms.
Posture is incredibly important. If you have that strong, Arnold Schwarzenegger posture, that proud posture, chest high, and shoulders back the audience is more inclined to believe that you believe. Imagine the opposite. A hang dog, deer in the headlight posture. No one is going to give that person any business.
Having a certain amount of arm and body animation also communicates that you are confident. The late Steve Jobs walked the stage, moved his hands and arms constantly and gestured.
Confident speakers also smile. A smile is a great technique because when you smile at someone, they tend to smile back. Part of a winning pitch is getting the people in the audience to like you. Smiling is a great way to do that. Smiling also says that you are completely confident in what you are saying. There is no doubt.
If you are in the audience and you see a speaker who is looking at you in the eyes, who is smiling, walking around, animated and has great posture, the sale is just about made.
The other half of the selling equation is that you sound confident. Sounding like you believe in whatever you are discussing is done in a number of ways. Start by speaking in a bigger voice. That doesn’t mean shouting but bigger, fuller. A strong voice also drives energy so people who speak big will also have better posture and hand and arm animation.
Speak at a good pace but not crazy fast. Avoid speaking carefully and slowly. Research shows the audience likes faster speaking presenters. The audience also likes when you pause. You don’t have to speak wall to wall. Pause for drama. Pause right after you say something very important. Pause if the audience is starting to drift away.
Every time you speak the audience judges you. If you speak in a confident voice with confident body movement techniques you have made it easy for that audience to like you and buy whatever you are selling.