Professional presence in the business presentation is the source of its power.
I should say potential power. For much of the potential power of presentations has been forfeited.
That potential has been squandered out of corporate fear, ignorance, egotism, conformity, and simple habit.
Forfeiture of Power
Lynda Paulson describes the unique qualities that a business presentation offers, as opposed to a simple written report.
What makes speaking so powerful is that at least 85 percent of what we communicate in speaking is non-verbal. It’s what people see in our eyes, in our movements and in our actions. It’s what they hear through the tone of our voice. It’s what they sense on a subliminal level. That’s why speaking, to a group or one-on-one, is such a total experience.
Here, Paulson describes the impact of professional presence. Entire books have been written on how to develop professional presence, and I reference one here by Peggy Noe Stevens.
Professional presence is the tangible contribution of the messenger to conveying a convincing message. A skilled speaker exudes energy, enthusiasm, savoir faire – the speaker becomes part of the message.
You become part of the message. You exert your unique talents and strengths to create a powerful professional presence.
You become charismatic.
Naked Information Overflow
But modern technology has swept the speaker into the background. Now we have naked information overflow. We see pyrotechnics that miss the entire point of the show – namely, persuading an audience.
Lots of people are fine with this. They don’t mind becoming a slide-reading automaton swept into the background. And they’d be happy if you faded into the background, too.
Most people don’t want to compete in the presentation arena. They don’t want to be compared to you and your extraordinary presentation skills. They would rather compete with you for your firm’s spoils on other terms. Terms other than professional presence.
Become an automaton, and you cede important personal competitive advantage.
You become like everyone else.
The true differentiating power of a presentation springs from the oratorical skills and confidence of the speaker. That, in fact, is the entire point of delivering a presentation – a project or idea has a champion who presents the case in public. Without that champion – without that powerful professional presence – a presentation is an empty shell.
It becomes an incredibly bad communication exercise and an infuriating waste of a valuable resource – time.
The Secret of Professional Presence
Today we are left with the brittle shell of a once-powerful communication tool. Gone is the skilled public speaker, an especially powerful presenter enthusiastic and confident, articulate and graceful, and convincing.
Gone is Quintilian’s ideal orator: “The good man, well-spoken.”
We are left with an automaton slide-reader in a business suit.
This is surely a far cry from how we imagine it ought to be – powerful visuals and a confident presenter. A presenter commanding the facts and delivering compelling arguments. A presenter using all the tools at his or her disposal.
This vast wasteland of presentation mediocrity presents you with a magnificent opportunity.
You can fade into that gray background as yet another corporate mediocrity mimicking the herd. Or you can seize the moment. You can develop your presentation skills to contribute to a charismatic professional presence.
Isn’t it time you decided to become an especially powerful business presenter with a premium personal brand? Why not seize the incredible personal competitive advantage of professional presence?
To develop professional presence through business presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.