Verbal and Nonverbal Presentation Techniques
Remember Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk in which she introduced the importance of “power posing?” She studied whether our nonverbals affect how we think and feel about ourselves, and as it turns out, they do. Cuddy found that people who for two minutes posed in “high power” positions, consisting of stretching out and taking up more space, had heightened levels of testosterone, which increases confidence, and reduced levels of the stress chemical cortisol. Put simply, standing as if you have power can make you feel as though you actually do. Put even more simply, “fake it until you make it.”
The Speech Center’s Kerri Thompson led a workshop with the Summer Venture Program entrepreneurs, applying this concept to help prepare the teams for our recent Showcase in which they presented to investors and the local community. The presenters had been practicing their verbal delivery for weeks, but Thompson wanted them to keep in mind that that body language is equally important when presenting.
She reminded the group that “from the moment you walk in here, you need to own the room.” You can do this using several strategies, such as channeling your nervous energy into movement by casually walking from one side of the stage to the other between transitions in your presentation. And of course, you can practice your power pose. Standing in the “Wonder Woman” position (with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, and chest up) before your presentation will make you appear, and feel, more confident.
At this point, Thompson launched into tips for verbal presentation success. Before speaking, consider warming up your voice by staying hydrated and practicing tongue twisters. Thompson shared that “your voice is a muscle, so for it to sound powerful, it needs to be worked out.” She recommended going through deep breathing exercises five minutes before going onstage since it is easy to forget to breathe when you have pre-performance adrenaline. When on stage, attempt to sound conversational rather than monotone to maintain the audience’s interest. Thompson quoted Neffinger and Kohut, saying that “strength consists of two basic elements: the ability to affect the world, and the gumption to take action.” Convince the audience that you have both!
We were thrilled to see how the Summer Venture Program teams used this advice for Showcase, and hope that you consider holding a “power pose” before your next important event!