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WHIN Monthly Bulletin

Presentation for Connection, Value and Impact

Dr. Angus I. McLeod

Introduction to Powerful Impact

When we ‘present’, not all that we have to show and say is actual information. If we want to have impact, firstly, we may need to think more acutely about the likely needs of the audience, not “I want to tell them this” or, “I want to show how clever I am about that”. There are other factors that can be considered and here, your author introduces a set of skills that applies not just to formal presenting, but to other communications including emails, reports, position-papers and briefs. The resources then are described for in-person, live audiences, but the resources easily apply to remote, digital presentations as well; where these need adaptation for remote working, advice is added in footnotes.



If you tend to anxiety, then, where possible, make contact with a few of the audience in advance of the event, both ones you know, but ones that you have not met, where it is reasonable to reach out to them. In a live-event, you can arrive early, make connections, swap names and shake hands or elbow-bump as appropriate. Later, as you take the chair or podium, you can make some eye contact with these folks[1].

It is also helpful to take five minutes out, well-before the presentation, to be alone, calm, breathing easy and deep and to think about the positive things that you have done in communicating with others. It is also possible to anchor these positive thoughts, so you can have them as-and-when wanted in a micro-second[2].


Content Structure: The Power of Three

Winston Churchill considered that three messages where ideal in setting forth a speech to the UK Houses of Parliament, however long the speech. Three is also a magic number for Maureen Steele[3] who established and promoted presentation-training courses involving a deliberate beginning, middle and end; each of these three, also have three key elements of shared communication. Like many, she also uses the adage, “#1: Tell them what you are going to tell them, #2: tell them, #3: tell them you told them”. The number three is important in a number of faiths, perhaps because the human mind is most-often able to manage messages in threes! The Steele-approach capitalizes on this; the system of threes does appear effective in practice.


First Impressions

Most of us accept the view that the first few seconds are the most important to establishing presence in the room, especially when presenting. As I walk to a podium, I will take my time, make eye contact with people front, left, right and rear[4]. For some of us, the arrival at the microphone will start with ‘holding the space’ in moments of silence before speaking. Your author, like others, goes further. It is possible, when calm and confident, to wait until everyone is silent and looking at you, before speaking. This adds gravitas to your persona and is a technique used in stage-work (in theatre and opera) for example[5]. Smiling involving the eyes, in all cultures, is a global signal of friendliness[6], hence useful if authentic. Smiling and silence can be used elsewhere during your presentation also.

Michael Useem[7] uses and promotes an introductory statement that values the audience itself. If there is going to be any sharing-space for questions, experiences etcetera, these can also be mentioned. Statements might be like this one:

‘Hello all of you {{smiling}}, my name is Juanita Rodriguez. There is a lot of talent in this meeting/room and I’m here not just to share some of my own perceptions, but to learn also from the knowledge and experiences that you have; we will have opportunities for you to share if you wish, during and afterwards’.


Content Needs: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic (VAK)

Representation Systems include the big three forms of communication (VAK) that are preferred because they are easily remembered and recalled by different people.

Some people are first-preference ‘visual’ and are interested, engaged and able to recall information that is visually stimulating and where any language used contains ‘visual’ words in sentences like these, “Clear as a bell”; “I hear you”; “That sounds like good advice, thank you”. In the west, the majority of people are firstly visual-preference people. TIPS: They will get bored by multiple slides showing bullet-points. Use two or more fonts, add icons, colors, figures, graphs, short videos and tables.

Other people are Kinesthetic-preference people and so need to see and hear communication that includes kinesthetic, or feeling/sensing, content: “Feels good to me”; “This news is like a breath of air, by the way”; “I’m excited about these opportunities”; “Let’s absorb this data and agree forward momentum together”. TIPS: Get people to write something down and pass it around, shake hands and introduce themselves to nearby participants. Use music with different emotional impacts and energy to start and end different parts of the presentation.

In the west, the smallest primary-preference group are auditory-preference people. These also make up a sub-set of successful comedians who discover intriguing connections, use word-play and relate the meaning and sounds of words in humorous ways. Use language like: “I hear that”; The plan is as sound as a bell”; “This investment will go like a bang”. TIPS: Add short recordings or video with other sounds and voices than your own. Use music to begin and end sections of the presentation.

Checking our text and scripts to make sure that these three forms of communication are included, will add to the effectiveness and broader engagement with the whole audience.


Speaking Tricks and Tips

As well as the use of deliberate silences and valuing the audience at the beginning, mentioned above, there are other powerful techniques to be used. One of these is repetition perhaps used once only; when there is something of likely value to many people in the meeting, say: “I’ll say that again if I may, ‘new business over six months increases by 47 percent’ ”.

Consider using cues that speak to the 1-2-3 process; “I told you earlier that we would move to the subject of marketing, so let’s look at some new learning and authenticated information for you, now”; “We covered A, B and C and found that three major learnings will advance our business, namely, X, Y and Z”.

If your voice is monotonal or very regular in volume or pace, you may find it useful to add other presenters (live or video) during your own delivery and/or, vary the pace, volume and stress upon words and phrases (that you use) to hold attention. You can add the use of silence to this list to increase your range in keeping attention.

Sometimes, dropping the volume and speed of delivery for a sentence or two will cause some of the audience to lean forward, confirming that you have them hooked, but also demonstrating to those around them, that what you have to say is valuable.

You may want to check with individuals in the room, if intending to refer to them, but direct 1-2-1 engagement in the audience will suggest that you have allies in the room and that you value others: “Arun Malkani from QBZ is with us {{looks to make eye-contact}} and he has reported that….”.

Try not to over-use the first-person and where possible replace the use of ‘I’ and ‘Me’ with ‘Us’ and ‘We’; this again values others and reduces the risk of dissonance in your audience.

Some messaging is also best given as if ‘third-party’ to add credibility and reduce push-back. We can express our own thoughts, knowledge and decisions to gain wider acceptance and reduced resistance by stating ‘as if’ coming from another source: “It’s often reported that using two of three fonts on product flyers is more effective that using one”.


Content Needs: Influencing Metaprograms

There are over one hundred metaprograms which characterize people’s thinking patterns. Forty of these have been peer-reviewed[8] and form a model called the iWAM[9]. Of these forty, several are helpful to consider when creating a new presentation. Here is such a list of metaprograms with some examples of how you can apply in any meeting:

  • Goal Orientation (Towards people) – ‘Let’s look at the benefits from introducing this policy’
  • Problem Solving (Away-from people) – ‘Here are good examples of what and how to avoid issues’
  • Procedures – ‘Here are typical steps needed to get results’
  • Alternatives – ‘There are at least three ways to get results, listed here with benefits and demerits’
  • Breadth (Big picture people) – ‘Corporate aims tend towards increased profits and margins around 10%’
  • Depth (people needing details) – ‘Let me show you, briefly, twelve elements that contribute to project success’
  • Sameness (people liking similar solutions) – ‘The process is widely accepted as similar to best-practices’
  • Difference (people favoring change) – ‘The initiative contributes a significant step-change in earnings’
  • Use (…Energy: people wanting to apply-now) – ‘Here is a condensed system to run a project successfully’
  • Concept (people needing theory, analysis, proofs to understand) – ‘Here are definitions and examples’
  • Structure (needing thematic process and linkages between parts to make use of information people)
  • Past, Present or Future (their individual engagement based upon history/evidence, present and future)
  • Convinced by Number of Examples (often a specific number of times)


Media Advantages

Many people talk about digital video conferencing negatively but there are some advantages. One is that the physical presence of others is less powerful and hence it can be easier for other people to contribute more often when these mor powerful presences are not physically in the room. If you want to advance and create a welcome impression, then in many organizations, using engagement skills to involve others, using the pronouns ‘we, you, us’, inviting contributions from less extravert people in the room, will improve these relationships and show off your team-dynamic skills.

Practically, all of this article’s tips apply. Another advantage of remote participation, especially where the entire meetings is remote, is to know that you can look intently at the face of any individual without them knowing; simply move your camera, or if the camera is integrated with your screen centrally, then position the application’s window to one side. To that person speaking, you now look as if you are looking at something else, data or a diagram perhaps. Looking directly at the speaker, without them knowing, allows you to monitor their authenticity and also, any emotional factors that may be at-play as that individual speaks.



Few people get presentation-skills-training and many are anxious in certain situations, if not at all situations where they have to speak to an audience. The skills and tips here provide easy-to-apply methods that not only give increased impact across a much-wider proportion of people-types present in the room, but also may give you more confidence before you start that you have some covert levers that give you hidden advantages over other people in the space.


[1] If using a digital meeting room, you can send text notes to some of the individuals to welcome their presence and if pertinent, any opportunity made for them to comment, ask a question or offer their own perceptions.

[2] See ‘Anchoring Resourceful Psychological States, in the same folder as this article.


[4] Where I have made contact earlier, I will single out these people both to engage them, but also to calm myself by reconnecting with ‘friendly’ folks.

[5] John Abulafia; see

[6] The eyes have to be involved to be effective; Reference Ron Gutman TED Talk; URL:



[9] Owned by JobEq;