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Help Your Audience Feel Your Message

Presenter on stage at a corporate event

I was in the middle of eating breakfast and perusing the New York Times, when an article caught my attention. It commented on how experts felt mirroring another person’s facial expression is essential for recognizing emotion, but then it went deeper by mentioning that they’re also needed for others to feel that emotion. It’s a different take on a decades-old topic. And when you think about it, this makes sense.

Over the years, I’ve made it a habit of smiling when I was in a bad mood. I noticed that the act of changing your facial muscles evoked the emotion. Crazy, right? I’ve also seen this phenomenon happen with body expressions. When you straighten your stance versus hunching over, you look more convincing. But this isn’t all. Your body is designed to be in an upright position, which means it performs more powerfully. So where am I going with this topic?

How you express yourself when presenting isn’t just a “vanity play,” it creates an outward expression your audience can mirror. This basic human connection is an impressive tool for connecting your audience to you and your message. Take this Channel Partners Conference Fast Chat presentation we created for Andy Ory, a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at 128 Technology.

Andy Ory, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at 128 Technology

Andy is an excellent presenter. His body is in continuous motion. As he walks across the stage, he keeps direct eye contact with the whole audience, including everyone with confidence that goes a long way when nurturing trust. Shock, excitement or hope, Andy punctuates authentic content with facial expressions that will help him elicit the emotion he wants from people. But he also realizes that his audience is large. So, he includes body language to mirror his facial expressions. The overall effect is an energy that can’t help but get a response whether that be an active visit to their event booth or planting the seeds for future outreach.

The next time you practice for a presentation, take your expressions beyond your comfort zone. Then take them even further to relax your expressive baseline. Watch yourself in a mirror and keep only comfortable ones. The more you do this exercise, the more natural the expressions become, and the further you can explore just the right combination that works for you.

Gwen Ackley
Gwen Ackley