What’s the Source of Your Presentation Power?

When you makes a product service or idea, you presentation goal is to influence the other party. The power of the presentation depends on understanding the source(s) of your power and constructing a compelling case for it. For instance, the powers you marshal for an audience that is receptive to your proposition may differ from those you use to a hostile audience.

There are seven bases of power, according to Situational Leadership, and you should be aware of which you’re using in the presentation to maximize its effectiveness. They are:

  • Coercive – based on the audience’s fear of you and/or your message
  • Connection – based on the your connections to others
  • Expert – based on knowledge and skills
  • Information  –  based on your access to valuable information
  • Legitimate – based on your position relative to the other party
  • Referent – based on your likeability
  • Reward – based on your ability to hand out rewards, in the form of money or other incentives

To deliver an ADAP – Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentation – requires you understand the relationship you have with your audience and which power will have what effect.  For instance, an audience that doesn’t view you as a legitimate source, is unlikely to be influenced by mere information; they also won’t trust you if you lack referent power.  All things being equal, providing compelling information, demonstrating your expertise, and highlighting the rewards that the audience will get for following on your advice, are likely to produce the desired actions.

So the next time you present, consider where you and your audience stand in relationship to each other and the topic at hand. Then draft a presentation that demonstrates the powers that will have influence.

Look Past the "Self-Presentation"

One of the many consequences of the pandemic is that people are more anxious. The sudden appearance of Covid-19 and its impact on our lifestyles -, health and life itself, has created anxiety for almost everyone. For some it’s quite severe; for others not.  However, it’s important that we recognize its impact and help people address it.

Adrian Gostick, Chester Elton and Anthony Gostick, recently released a book, Anxiety at Work.  Even before the pandemic started, the authors were hearing that anxiety at work was increasing. Harvard Medical School research reports that “on-the-job-anxiety” imperils workers; careers and company  productivity.. Anxiety leads to increased employee, errors, growing burnout, workplace rage, more sick days, and poor employee health. Workplace anxiety is estimated to cost some $40 Billion annually in lost productivity, errors and health-care costs; stress is estimated t cost more than $300 Billion.

A 2018 survey found that 34% of workers of all ages felt anxious at least once in the previous month; 18% had a diagnosed anxiety disorder.  Some of it is related to fitting into the workplace; another comfort is discomfort with doing the work. Yet very little about it was reported in their companies.


At Stanford University, they came up with a term to describe the masquerading of students at the high-pressure school. The “duck syndrome” describes students who appear as if they doing fine, but are manically pushing themselves, just like a duck calmly glides on a pond, while below the surface the ducks are paddling like mad.

During the pandemic, the stresses became more severe, as people, especially parents had to juggle health issues, living arrangements, computer resources, and significant others having all kinds of problems, while handling the work for their employers.  Since the common interface was Zoom, people could try to a present a calm self-presentation. Like the “ducks”, they make it seem that they were gliding along, when in fact they were under pressure and used extra hours in the day to meet the deadlines. How hard they paddled wasn’t obvious.

We’re now in the “fluid” stage of the pandemic – trying to figure out when, where and how we will work at home, in the office, etc. Adding to everyone’s anxiety is that like water in a bucket on a ship at sea being tossed by the waves, the water keeps shifting and just adding more stress to it for all.

We all need to look past our self-presentations of relative “calm” and attend to the indicators of additional stress and anxiety that might below the surface. We need to have open discussions with our staff of what their current situation is like and how they expect it to changes, while the waves of this pandemic keep slamming everyone.  Only in that way can we help people take control of their anxiety and make decisions as to what will work for them in the next stage and eventually the new normal.

Share with us what you’re doing to help your staff. We can all learn from experiences.

Make Better Decisions

The ultimate purpose of making presentations to an audience is to guide their decisions on an issue. Whether the presentation is designed to inform, educate, inspire, motivate or activate the audience, the speaker’s job is to provide the logical and emotional foundation to enable the audience to make the desired decision.

Social scientists have identified countless many variables that affect the degree to which the message communicated will be compelling and persuasive. Robert Cialdini, a social psychologist is a recognized expert in this area (e.g., Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and Pre-Suasion: Channeling Attention for Change). As a social psychologist who created businesses (Brilliant Image and Presentation Excellence) to help over 5000 leaders make more effective presentations), we came up with an easy-to-remember foundational formula to guide our clients: ADAP: Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentations.

As a Vistage Chair, Executive Coach, and CEO of Age Brilliantly, my mind has been focused on the other side of the room: how to help people making decisions make the best ones possible. In the former roles, the goal is on leadership and personal decision-making; in the latter, the goal is to map out our and mange one’s life so adults can lead fulfilling lives which may well last till 100+.  For instance, we know that there are many conscious and unconscious variables that affect decision-making such as blind-spots, cognitive dissonance, etc. Even the type of decision matters, as Daniel Kahneman, et al. have shown with System I and System 2 thinking (e.g., Thinking Fast and Slow).

As a result, I reread an excellent book discussing ways in which we can increase the odds of making  better decisions: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. As I start using more discipline to my own decision-making, and influence the others that I have the privilege of serving, I thought I’d share some key points.

The Heath Brothers identify “four villains of decision making”, discuss the many forms in which they take place and share real world stories so we can identify with the problem and value of a better solution. Here are the solutions to the four challenges:

  • Widen Your Options:  Many times the choices we’re offered are narrow: Should we do X or not? Should we do X or Y? The tyranny of OR is that we’ve eliminated our ability to think through other options that exist – and which may be superior. So when given a narrow option, think AND – what else might be possible. Often there is a third alternative, and often a fourth, fifth, etc.
  • Reality-Test Your Assumptions. Rather than accept the limited facts that you have, be curious and find a way to test or experiment with the assumptions. Years ago, I started supervising students who had little exposure to the real-world of working, and barely knew what their skills, passions and purpose were. The goal is to provide these interns (650+) with the opportunity to explore options and challenge assumptions in the real world.
  • Attain Distance Before Deciding.  Emotions often rule when quick decisions have to be made. High-pressure sales people (sometimes including yourself!) build on the emotions to get a fast decision. The better strategy is to give yourself time; get more input from other people who’ve been in analogous situations and can attest to the impact; distance yourself from the decision, by imaging what your old-wiser self (or other respected person) might tell you to do!
  • Prepare to be Wrong.  We want to be right and we become overconfident quite quickly on how we think the future will play out. Think through what might go wrong before it happens; for instance, a pre-mortem imagines what could go wrong and forces you to play devil’s advocate and uncover contrary facts and opinions that might go wrong. Is there “groupthink pressure taking place? Better to discover problems you’re ignoring before a poor decision takes place.

At this time in all our lives, as we make post-pandemic decisions for ourselves, our loved ones, our companies, our country, etc., think about the decisions you need to make and try to make the best decisions possible.   Then share with us which strategies helped you produce better decisions!

Is An Outdated LinkedIn Profile Negatively Impacting Your Career?

By Point Road Group

Before and after you give a presentation, people look you up on LinkedIn. Does your profile make a great impression and present you optimally when they do? Can people see your unique value, expertise and experience in way that’s clear, informative and interesting? What your profile says about you supports your personal brand and credibility as a speaker, and if it’s outdated, that credibility can be damaged. Consider the following reactions to outdated profile content:

  • How can this person be an expert in XX when their profile doesn’t communicate it at all?
  • The speaker claims to have deep experience in YY, but when I look at their work history, it doesn’t add up.
  • The speaker comes across as junior level on their profile. Is this person really a leader in ZZ?

What you include on your profile should reflect who you are today. Outdated information doesn’t position you well for anything – future speaking engagements, network growth, internal opportunities, business referrals, potential jobs, board seats or media inquiries. Consider the missed opportunities if your profile doesn’t show what you bring to the table now.

Resonating with your audience is critical when giving a presentation. The same holds true with viewers of your LinkedIn profile. The content on your profile is a form of presentation, so make it mistake-free and relevant and relatable to your target audiences. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your profile, here are 7 updates to improve impressions you make and instantly enhance your credibility.

1. Update Your Headshot

Your headshot is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn. Use a good quality, professional-looking image that represents what you look like today, not 10 years ago. If you’ve changed hair color, switched to wearing glasses or grown a beard since your last photo, update your headshot. Use a picture that’s centered on your face, isn’t taken from 50 feet away and doesn’t include others. When your headshot and appearance as a presenter on video (or in person) don’t match, it can confuse audiences and potentially impact communication.

2. Go Beyond Title & Company In Your Headline

Your headline introduces you on LinkedIn and influences whether someone decides to read more about you. It also impacts your discoverability in search results. When writing a headline, include key areas of expertise and industry specialties. If you’re a keynote speaker, let people know! Use this high value real estate to establish relevancy and credibility, not just state a job title and company name.

3. Write About You, Not Your Company In About

Do you include a lot of detail about your company instead of who you are and what makes you unique in the About section? Your profile, and especially the About section, is the place to tell your professional story. While it’s okay to write about your company topline for context, don’t make it all about them. Even if your role is to develop new business or drive brand awareness, people still want to know about who you are and the expertise and value you bring. Include the most critical information in the first few lines to entice people to click, “see more.”

4. Grab Attention With Logos In Experience

Are there generic gray/blue square icons in your Experience section instead of company logos? Be sure to match employer names to the correct LinkedIn company pages so clickable company logos appear. Experience looks more credible and impactful with visual representation of the brands you’ve worked for. If a former employer was sold, list the acquiring company so the logo appears (and then under your title or description, be clear that you worked for the acquired company. If the company no longer exists or if you’re self-employed and don’t have a LinkedIn company page, it’s acceptable to leave the generic icon.

5. Unpack Your Experience

Do you over-summarize positions, so it looks like you had one title for 10 years instead of the three roles you really held? Not only does showing career progression demonstrate that you performed well (and the company valued your work and supported your growth), but it can also generate up to 29X more profile views. Include detail under recent positions to enhance your credibility. While it doesn’t need to read like a resume, providing some information under your current role can result in up to 5X more connection requests, 8X more profile views and 10X more messages according to LinkedIn.

6. Include 5+ Skills

List skills that relate to who you are today and how you want to position yourself moving forward. Include skills related to speaking and presenting, specific industry and functional strengths and other competencies that highlight your unique value and problems you solve. This improves searchability. According to LinkedIn, including at least 5 skills on your profile translates to up to 17X more profile views and 31X more messages.

7. Check Details & Settings

Do you know what email is listed on your profile? Do you link to a Twitter handle but haven’t tweeted in years? Do you know who can view your information and if your profile is publicly viewable? Be sure to go through all areas of Contact Information to ensure it’s current, as well as Settings & Privacy. People should be able to find you on LinkedIn and reach you in some way off-platform.

A current and complete LinkedIn profile strengthens impressions you make when someone looks you up before/after presentations, meetings or events; when making introductions that link to your profile; or when conducting a search on or off LinkedIn. Strong personal brands are important for speakers and presenters and an optimized LinkedIn profile reflects that. Don’t let an outdated profile negatively impact your credibility or business and career opportunities.

It’s the (User-Focused) Strategy that Counts!

To paraphrase a famous expression, “It’s the Strategy, Stupid!”

Recently Greg Satell, Publisher of Digital Tonto, reminded me of the difference that two companies used to accomplish a vision, with two different strategies and very different outcomes.   In “Anyone Can Have A Vision”, he compares the strategies of two visionary entrepreneurs committed to shifting the world from fossil fuels to renewables, and deciding to create enterprises focused on bringing electric cars to the masses.  Yes, one of them is Elon Musk and Tesla. 

The other, Shai Agassi, committed to this compelling vision in 2007 by forming a company called “Better Place”, focused immediately on producing the car for the masses. With a focus on the technology, he envisioned that the car, at least at the beginning, would have a very heavy battery and need to be recharged for drivers traveling long distances. Drawing on the model for gas-powered vehicles – where drivers stop in on stations to fill up when power was running low, the company focused on battery switching stations that would remove and install a new battery when power was running low.  The company went public and tested the initial model in places like Hawaii, Ireland and Israel, where the distances were relatively small and only one or two “charges” would be needed. Renault Fluence Z.E.  created the electric car to hold the batteries .  At its peak in 2012, there were 21 operational battery-swap stations open to the public in Israel. Better Place filed for bankruptcy in May 2013.

Musk adopted a different strategy – focusing on the user. He did not attempt to immediately build a car for the masses; instead he used the “adoption of innovations” approach and focused on early adopters: Silicon Valley celebrities and millionaires who wouldn’t rely on the car for everyday use, choosing to use it as their second car which they could show off to their friends and neighbors. That gave Musk the opportunity to learn how to manufacture cars efficiently and effectively, with the goal of producing cars for the masses in the future.

Musk focused on building competence in designing and delivering cars that buyers would want and could afford – and succeeded. In contrast, Agassi focused on battery switching, leaving him with only one automobile supplier – which provided only the “shell-of-a-car” running on someone else’s battery!

There are many ventures that teach us similar lessons. Webvan was one of the first delivery services for home goods. Despite raising a lot of money and hiring an experienced leadership team, it failed within a year, because it spent its money on distribution system warehouses, with a poorly designed scheduling system that made many deliveries unprofitable. Since then food and other home delivery services (e.g., Fresh Direct, Peapod, etc.) have learned the importance of smart user-friendly scheduling slots with profitability.

So before you launch your technology driven service, make sure you’re meeting customers’ immediate and long-term needs, profitably.  Use a “pre-mortem” to challenge your assumptions!

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