“Are you the presenter?” people sometimes ask me before a meeting.
“Yes,” I say. “Or at least I’m going to pretend to be.”
But the truth is, every person in that room is a presenter, for the main reason that you and I present ourselves every day.
Even if you’re working at home, the moment you get on the phone and say “hello,” you’ve just made a presentation, and people will infer all sorts of things about you—your intelligence, your attitude—just by your voice.
Henry Ford was reputed to have sized up job applicants over lunch, based on a little thing: salt. The big mistake was salting your food before tasting it. That implied, I suppose, you were too impulsive, too inflexible, and you were, obviously, deeply troubled about pepper.
The point is, small moments aren’t so small.
Back to our meeting. Suppose it begins with self-introductions. A small moment? Maybe not.
When it’s your turn, you say:
1) “I’m Harriett.” But you speak softly, as if you were wanted by the FBI, and you suspect that half the room is working undercover.
Your volume speaks volumes. Speak up, send the message that your message is IMPORTANT.
2) “I’m Harriett.” But while speaking, you fidget with your hair, or your jewelry, or you touch your face—these are known as grooming gestures. Not recommended, although preferable to fidgeting with other people’s hair or faces.
3) “I’m Harriett???” You make routine assertions sound like questions by ending every sentence on a higher note, as if you believe that, in this universe, nothing is for certain. Maybe you’re Harriett. Maybe you’re really Fred. The whole thing is bewildering.
Tip: Sometimes, all you get is a moment. Seize it.
© Copyright 2014 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.