Thursday, November 4, 2010

Speaker Secret # 33: Transparency in Words and in Actions

Podiums and lecterns get in the way. People don't trust what they cannot see. When you can, try not to use them - for it distances and insulates you from your audience. But if you are required to, or feel like you have to, there are ways to minimize this effect. Here, Jerry Brown, the newly elected Governor of California, solves the problem by using a plexiglass podium - which is a great idea for politicians. Always remember to keep your hands visible too - at or above the level of the top of the lectern. Mr. Brown is resting them on the front-corners, which is a good position, as long as it's not overdone. Never put your hands in your pockets. It sends signals of disengagement and concealment. It's also a good idea to walk out from behind the podium, and depending on the setting, audience and your profession - you may even want to walk out among them. The over-riding theme here is to keep yourself visible. With all other things being equal, you'll be much better received and believed.