By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to gain and retain the attention of your audience for your next speech. Reading time: 4:38
How do the most effective leaders leverage their public speaking skills to more fully engage an audience, to captivate an audience, to enthrall an audience “ear-resistably.” They FLIRT. And so can you. With a breathless bravado of sorts.
No you don’t have to share a furtive glance with someone sitting close to the lectern. No, you don’t have to soften your voice in a sexy whisper. No, you don’t have to bite your own lips in a moment of passion or run your tongue along your teeth at a delectable thought.
No, you don’t have to kneel down on one knee and plead ever so fervently with a member of the audience. No, you don’t have to walk into the audience and softly waltz a finger across someone’s cheek or touch some one so gingerly on the shoulder.
All you have to do is FLIRT.
FLIRT is an acrostic for five ways you can use your body language to
get the audience to figuratively dance with you, to follow you—and your message—step by step:
F for Feeling
L for Looking
I for Invoking
R for Roaming
T for Tasking.
To feel your audience, reach out and HUG them. With Feeling.
HUG stands for Handily Use Gestures.
Let your fingers figuratively run through the hair of your audience.
Let your audience feel what you are feeling through your fingers, hands and arms– through your gestures.
In flirting with your audience, the eyes say it all.
Maybe that’s why Arturo Toscanini, the famed Italian musical conductor, would memorize long symphonies so that he could maintain eye contact with his musicians and infuse them with an energy and passion that enhanced their performance.
Ask your audience for their help. Mohandas Gandhi could hardly walk up to the podium. In fact he had to sit down as soon as he reached the podium. Seated, he spoke for only for one minute on April 14, 1919. But his message was felt as much as heard. He touch their hearts and souls in seeking their help:
“You will forgive me for saying the few remarks that I want to say just now, sitting in the chair,” said Gandhi, “I am under strict medical orders not to exert myself, having a weak heart. I am therefore compelled to have some assistance and to have my remarks read to you. But before I call upon Mr. Deeasi to read my remarks, I wish to say one word to you. Take thought before you sign the Pledge (against unjust laws). But if you sign it, see to it that you never violate the Pledge you have signed. May God help you and me in carrying out the Pledge.”
No doubt many in the audience saw and felt the commitment that an ailing Gandhi had for his message of freedom over tyranny and that body language alone set the tone for the way the audience heard the text of the speech read to them.
Don’t hide behind the lectern or podium. Think of the stage as a canvas and you are the artist. Dab a color here and move over a few feet and dip your brush with still another color. Pull an Elizabeth Dole.
At the 1996 Republican convention, speaking on behalf of her husband–Bob Dole for president of the United States– Mrs. Dole roamed. She left the podium, walked down a fight of stairs in front of the stage and roamed into the audience. Her body language spoke of confidence and conviction as she roamed toward specific individuals in the audience who played a role in her message about Bob Dole’s confidence and conviction. She literally walked the talk.
Give your audience an assignment to more fully engage them. Be like the chief executive officer of a large industrial firm at the conclusion of a company-wide meeting on quality. He grabbed a chair and climbed on it and appealed to his vice presidents: “Repeat after me. I will listen. I will not shoot the messenger. I recognize that management is the problem.”
FLIRT with your audience to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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