15 Sep

Boost Your Leadership Through Dynamic Speaking

Your executive presence is on full display whenever you stand up to make a presentation. That’s true whether it’s to a small group around a conference table, an industry-wide audience of thousands, or a presentation to the media that may be broadcast to millions of people.

Executive presence commands attention and exudes energy. If you have a palpable presence people notice when you walk in the room, and they stay positively engaged when you’re interacting with them. The same applies to your executive presence beside the podium. Here are some tips for generating and maintaining that kind of connectivity with your audience to make your presentations more persuasive and memorable.

Make it Relevant

Right out of the gate you have to give your audience a reason to tune in and listen. If you wait until the end to point out why your presentation matters and use that as the punch line, you risk losing your listeners from the very start.

Instead you should lead the presentation by saying what challenges you are going to solve or what kinds of benefits they will take away from your talk. You don’t have to give away everything – put you do have to offer them enough to hook them.

Keep it Engaging

Once you’ve got their attention the key is to keep them engaged. The most common mistake presenters make is that they go off on tangents that confuse listeners. You have to stick to your premise or main message.

Another pitfall is getting too complicated and technical, in a way that talks over their heads and will end up with you looking out at lots of glazed eyes. Make them think, but don’t get so cerebral or complex that they are unable to follow.

Use Strategic Pauses

If you don’t stop and breathe then your audience will never have any breathing room either, and they need that space to pause and process what you’re delivering to them. Without that kind of break in the action they’ll be overwhelmed and unable to retain what you’re explaining.

Lay out a powerful idea or point. Then let it sink in for a few seconds before you proceed. In that way you should pace the timing of your delivery to keep it natural, impactful, and connected with your listeners.

Tips for Longer Presentations

The longer the presentation, the more challenging it can be to keep people engaged and alert. That’s why for lengthy talks, workshops, and seminars I recommend getting them involved in an interactive learning process.

You’ve got to keep the energy up during your talk so everyone is empowered to learn at a deeper level. When you see the energy level start to drop incorporate a spur of the moment question, short exercise, or discussion.

Ask powerful questions, break into group discussions, or get them to work on case studies. By taking questions along the way, you can find out exactly where the participants need it to go.

A careful balance is needed here. We think we know what they need to learn – but when they ask questions it gives you guidance so you can alter your presentation to your specific audience.

I always leave time after my sessions for Q&A, after the teaching component but preceding the final wrap-up and call to action.


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified image master (CIM) and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand. Illustra Consulting Copyright © 2015, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIM, CPBS 1-800-267-3245, [email protected] This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.


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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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