What does it mean to make connections? Jay opened the session with this provocative question which was the theme of the afternoon. Of the three ingredients in making connections which includes the individual, the content and the audience, the focus is always on the audience and what’s in it for them. Jay challenged the Pacesetters to become more thoughtful about what’s helpful to their audience and to tailor all communications in that direction. The three main topics that Jay and his associate, Jodie Stewart, covered were crafting strong messages, telling engaging stories, and delivering with executive presence.
Jay introduced some exercises to illustrate how to generate enthusiastic conversations and make immediate impact with others. With the realization that people remember only 20 seconds of what is said in a 20 minute presentation, the Pacesetters practiced ways to strengthen their interactions by focusing on the audience. The message that they want their constituents to walk away with must be emphasized and repeated at least 3 times.
The components of storytelling are: 1) define the purpose; 2) consider the audience and 3) consider your own skill level. People will remember graphic and interesting stories far better than they will remember content from a PowerPoint, especially if the story is relevant to the audience. Decide if the story is to persuade or to inform, and tailor the story accordingly.
Manage your physical presence is the essence of delivering with executive presence. The key is to minimize the other person’s ability to misinterpret your intent by the way you are standing, the way you are using your arms or the use of your hands. Jay and Jodie shared several techniques around body language and physical delivery. They also reviewed things to avoid such as qualifying language and “up speak” which Jay demonstrated. Jodie shared some examples of how to be more conversational during presentations, meetings and phone calls. Finally, Jay emphasized the importance of good listening skills to gain trust and respect.
Jay Sullivan is the Managing Partner at Exec|Comm, and leads the firm’s Law Firm Group. He is an award-winning author (Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond), and columnist, as well as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law Center. As a contributing writer for Forbes.com, Jay brings relevant and timely advice on enhancing one’s communication skills to the business community. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.exec-comm.com