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Speaking from the Heart

Face-to-face presentations are essential to advancing a career. Here’s how to present your message with confidence and power.

Most every day, we all make presentations to others. At business forums, executives present short "elevator stories" to gain interest from a customer or investor. At networking events, people introduce themselves in search of an interview, referrals or information. At work, employees speak of future expectations and past performance to influence supervisors, subordinates, investors, clients and others.

Most adults fear public speaking, yet communicating a right impression quickly and effectively is vital in our fast-paced age of sound bites. In coaching executives at all levels, I find that even the most educated, experienced and technically skilled professionals often perform poorly in crafting and presenting a clear message. Here are three keys to delivering a better message about your value.

  1. Be Prepared

    Know your audience including their buying influences and roles, and any desires or fears you will address. Determine to provide value first before expecting to receive value, and you will build rapport that leads to relationships and influence. Whether addressing one or one hundred, know what you expect from the interaction and plan accordingly. Use positive affirmations like "I know more about this topic than anyone", and memories of past successes or fun experiences, to over-power nervousness and create positive feelings before speaking. When you feel it and believe it, you will do it.

  2. Be Believable

    Deliver a consistent message demonstrating competence and character. Use relevant, personal stories to support key points. Ensure your words and actions send the same message. People believe what they see before the words you speak. Be respectful of your audience, speaking equal to equal. Avoid pacing or nervous habits (like hands in pockets), take deep breaths and pause often to maintain composure. Match your attire to the situation, and squarely face people with shoulders parallel.

  3. Be Interesting

    People are attracted to (and hire) people like themselves. Greet people with a smile, a solid handshake, and their name. Use adequate projection, a pleasing tone and appropriate timing to be clearly heard. Convey excitement by talking faster, create calm by speaking slower, and try to match your delivery to their style. Maintain eye contact without staring, even in a group. Use gestures and body movement to demonstrate or emphasize points.

Why risk losing valuable business or career opportunities to someone else? Follow these three strategies and you will gain attention and interest in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

-Joseph L. Marzano, Jr.

Copyright ©Joseph L. Marzano, Jr. 2003

Mr. Marzano is a partner, speaker and executive coach with InterLINK Management Consulting, a Pittsburgh, PA based group that develops sustainable leadership skills and integrated management solutions. Mr. Marzano helps executives to lead and present with confidence and power. To schedule a free phone consultation, send an e-mail with "Coach Me" in the subject line to