What can a leader learn about connecting from both a classical music competition and a TED Talk? According to research, visual presence dramatically impacts and influences listeners’ opinions without ever hearing one note or word.
Although it seems counterintuitive, researcher Chia-Jung-Tsay, discovered both novices and musical experts were most likely to identify competition winners by watching muted videos of live performances. More recently, Citizen Science Research, analyzed commonalities between the most successfully rated TED Talks. Guess what? There was no difference in high ratings of speakers between people who watched talks on mute and people who watched talks with sound.
Which begs me to ask, if only your body did the talking at your next presentation, would others describe you as confident, passionate and genuine? Leaders who project presence draw individuals toward their message. Leaders who are comfortable in the skin they’re in, allow others to feel the same. Here’s three ways to up your connection quotient without saying a word:
Ditch the Script. Rather than perfectly craft and memorize every word of a presentation, speak from your heart to showcase your passion. If you’re already thinking, “What! You mean to tell me winning classical musicians and TED presenters didn’t spend time memorizing?” Of course they did, but here’s the difference. Musicians practice until they no longer think about the notes, but rather, feel the music. The highest rated TED speakers most likely are more concerned about their message than a specific phrase. Passion through their body language moves the needle. Passion rarely shows up when you’re stuck in your head.
Hands Up. Although natural gestures emerge, consider the placement of your hands. It has been shown that people tend to have increased trust in those who use their hands above waist level. Frequent gesturing also helps engage your listener, adds to their understanding of what you’re trying to relate, and directs their attention closer to your eyes – the true “windows” to your being.
Make a Level-Headed Z. Large, crowded rooms make it difficult to make eye contact, but the trick is to start in the back left corner of the room with your eyes and make a slow Z as you speak. This technique allows everyone in your gaze to feel seen. Avoid raising your chin, which conveys aggression or arrogance, or lowering it, which can communicate disapproval. And don’t forget to smile!
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