Nowhere is your status and capability as a thought leader more conspicuous than when you stand up to lead a meeting or give a presentation. Unfortunately, most people enter these situations unprepared to take advantage of this kind of golden opportunity. Instead of exuding outstanding executive presence they do just the opposite and shoot themselves in the foot in front of important decision makers.
Always Come Prepared
Several years ago a survey of top team leaders in more than 185 companies worldwide was conducted by Marakon Associates to analyze effectiveness of executive activities including meetings. What they found – across a range of industries and organizations – was that most meetings failed to enhance team performance.
Usually this is the fault of the leader or presenter, who showed up unprepared. Don’t procrastinate when you have a talk to make. Set aside plenty of time to lay out your talking points, practice your delivery, and be ready to respond effectively and intelligently to any unexpected questions.
Follow an Agenda
The survey found that meetings were not focused on essential topics and often wasted time. At half of the companies studied the agenda remained the same from one meeting to the next. Before gathering a group of people for a presentation, give them the outline of the agenda in writing.
That way they will already start to process the information and will be more inclined to listen with greater interest. Setting an agenda also helps you, as the speaker, by giving you a clear guide to follow so that you stay on track and stick to the essential points you’re trying to make.
Stay on Message
The meetings often ran over their allotted times, too, leaving team members frustrated and confused. In fact, 80% of top management’s time is typically devoted to issues that only impact about 20% of sustainable value. That demoralizes teams and makes leaders appear ineffective and weak.
Don’t get off message. You aren’t just up there to inspire and inform with your words. You’re also showcasing your ability to command a room and project yourself as the leader. That means you have to be the most organized, focused, and articulate person in the room. Do that and you’ll get noticed in ways that contribute directly to your career advancement. Exuding great EP during your talk also leaves people eager to attend your next presentation rather than making excuses to get out of sitting through it because you were perceived as so boring.
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.