Most of us aren’t taking advantage of a critical opportunity to improve our image. Despite a growing dependence on email and instant messaging, our ability to present our ideas face-to-face still has a big impact on how others perceive us. Here’s why and what you can do about it.
“How we come across to others determines how others see us. It determines our relationship with them,” says Joe Williams, IABC Fellow and CEO of Joe Williams Communications Inc. “We are always ‘presenting.’ It makes little difference if we are in front of a board, a team, or sitting across from someone just having a cup of coffee.”
Even though we are required to constantly “present” our thoughts to others, our ability to effectively share our ideas verbally is slipping. When asked whether technology has a role in this, Williams says: “I think it’s more because we don’t know how to actually be present with others. We have become so focused on ourselves that we’re rarely fully present and engaged with others anymore. We no longer have time for others.”
That self-focus has numerous effects, including reducing our ability to navigate difficult conversations. “We are not taught how to deal with conflict and resistance and, as a result, we become defensive when we are met with resistance. And when that happens, everything is lost,” Williams says.
So, what are the steps to getting past these barriers and achieving presentation success? Williams makes these points:
- Look at the bigger picture and hone your relationship skills overall.
- Concentrate on focus, intention, empathy and honesty.
- Put the best interests of your audience first—or risk being tuned out.
Follow the same guidelines, says Williams, when dealing with resistance: “Don’t resist resistance. Instead of blocking it or getting defensive, draw out their resistance…. Once you learn how to do this, your relationship with others changes completely.”
In his session at the 2014 World Conference, “The Strategic and Confident You: How to present effectively, think on the spot and deal with resistance,” Williams tells us that attenders can expect “solid tools—not useless theory” to present themselves as strategic and confident leaders.
Williams’ session is just one of 15 presentations at the IABC Fellows’ Circles of Wisdom event, where participants can learn from a collective 600 years of professional experience. “The Fellows have, for the most part, done and experienced what others are most likely going through,” says Williams. “It’s the chance of a lifetime for serious-minded professionals.”