Is Your Talk Hot or Cold and How to Know
I just got back from a marketing workshop held by my mentor, Christine Kane for a few days and she's made an excellent analogy about leadership. She says, "Be a thermostat, not a thermometer."
The same thing applies to your presentations and your communication in general: you can reflect the other person's energy level or you can firmly set yourself at a high level and allow the audience to catch up to you.
Here's a typical scenario: Mr. Creative Genius presents, or pitches a fantastic proposal to some Big Cheeses. Everyone seems to be receptive, attentive and engaged. But there's this one woman, who just looks plain mad. Angry.
Who do you think Mr. Creative is going to focus on? The happy 6 or the unhappy 1?
Unless Mr. Creative is conscious about his own energy, the default route is to lose one's grip, worried about that one person who's giving "negative feedback." It's easy then to forget what you wanted to say and to get off track or distracted.
Possibly Ms. Angry has a migraine. Perhaps she's gotten back news from the doctor. Or she's worried about one of her own accounts. Or maybe she just looks like that all the time.
No matter. It's your job to be the thermostat in the room, not the thermometer.
I have a leadership communication tool called the 12 Interpretations that helps in this situation. It's probably not a great idea to stop mid-sentence to come up with 12 possible reasons why Ms. Angry looks that way, but simply remember you're not a mind reader and (even if you are psychic) you have a job to do, a message to deliver, regardless of how other people feel about you or your topic.
Besides, your intention to be the leader helps other people relax.