How to create personal impact in 7 days

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was glancing along my “office” bookshelf earlier and came across a “Teach Yourself in a Week” book on personal impact by Christine Harvey.  It must have been several years since I last read it as I don’t recall it at all. It can help both in the workplace, but also when we consider #bellringing recruitment opportunities, when we are giving talks or presenting information about #bellringing.

The layout gives a bite sized topic for each day for seven days.  This one sets out:

Sunday – conquer non-verbal power

Monday – avoid embarrassment and discrediting yourself

Tuesday – structure your presentation to prove your point masterfully

Wednesday – make your point stick using incidents, analogies and humour

Thursday – grasp 13 ways to grab and hold attention

Friday – Build you fool-proof presentation planning matrix

Saturday – put icing on the cake of professionalism

Rome wasn’t built in a day but apparently we can learn in a week what experts learn in a lifetime. If only it were that simple. I thought I’d give it another read, one day at a time.

The first thing is to learn the three main aspects of impact: words, voice and non-verbal movement and actions. Harvey claims that the most accepted findings on what percentage impact each of these elements has is 7%, 38% and 55% respectively.  Therefore, it doesn’t matter what words you use, more the tone and what else you do that matters.  The five aspects of non-verbal impact are eye contact, stance, walking, gestures and projection of conviction with researchers finding that audiences give speakers 40% less effectiveness rating where there is no eye contact. So Rome wasn’t built in a day but if the Italian art of gesticular communication is anything to go by, this has a greater impact than a sedentary encounter.

The next thing to do is create credibility, personal, expert and reputable source credibility and draw upon your strengths to discuss any topic that comes your way. By providing credible facts or information this helps your listener take notice.

Then we can use emotional and logical proof to help get your point across. Using numbers or statistics, quotes and references give gravitas to your conversation. Using analogies, humour and incidents help create a picture, or a story.  It helps your audience make an emotional connection to your message that will stick with them.

In order to grab and hold attention it’s a good idea to have powerful opening, use questions, get the audience involved, use objects, create suspense and have a powerful close. I always try to do very little using Powerpoint or formal presentation styles, I’d much rather sit round a table with the audience and give them something to create that they can take away with them, especially if I’m teaching rather than presenting.

If you find yourself giving a more formal presentation its worth thinking about your main message, what are you trying to get across, plot the story so it flows.  Time your presentation so as not to go over any allotted time, or ramble on too long. Nothing so dull as someone droning on for longer than say, half an hour, about something you are not familiar with and can’t engage with. I usually find the Q&A session at the end more stressful.  Giving a presentation is easy enough if I’ve written it and know what the topic is, but you can’t foresee the sorts of questions you might be asked.  I will always admit if I don’t know the answer, or draw others in to help respond if possible, or even ask the questioner how they might tackle whatever problem they are enquiring about.

Having skim read this book again, I have refamiliarised myself with a number of useful pointers to employ next time I need to present or run a workshop (which will be quite soon apparently)!


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