I regularly hear clients tell me that they are interrupted during meetings.
Or that they are misinterpreted as too aggressive or too passive.
Other than shouting at your audience and telling them what you really think of them (which would be really satisfying), what if you considered this:
Danielle is a senior sales executive and is often pitching ideas in meetings to clients. Her issue is that while her content is strong, she is losing connection with her audience too quickly.
I began our training sessions by asking her to deliver a business pitch to me as she would to a client.
I could see the issue. So I asked her to bring some content to her next session that truly inspired her.
She arrived with the poem 'If' by Rudyard Kipling.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
As she spoke it, tears welled up in her. I could see that there were undercurrents of meaning for her, but in rushing through she was missing the personal connections it had for her.
We spent some time on it so she could become more present with each moment of speaking.
I also asked her to imagine she was speaking to herself as a little girl. And she had to change the last line to “you’ll be a woman, my dear.”
What occurred was an emotionally delicate and authentic delivery of a very personal experience, which she willingly and thoughtfully shared on her voice.
We were at once both connected to the message and the experience and were emotionally moved.
Her job now was to bring that experience of speaking into her business communications: to be completely connected to what she was saying and the sentiment behind it, while being sensitive to the impact it was having on her clients.
She succeeded and reported back that her clients were more willing to listen to her and they interrupted her less.
More importantly, she had the feeling she was being heard and valued more by the business.
Isn’t it fascinating that the slower and more authentically connected to what you are speaking, the more your audience connects to you and what you value in the world?