Kevin Hogan, Professional Motivational and Inspirational Keynote Speaker, Influence, Persuasion, Body Language

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Kevin Hogan

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Body Language: Strategic Movement

Your Covert Advantage

Let Your Body Do the Talking In Group Presentations

You have read about how your body communicates messages to others in the article Can You Hear Your Body Talking?. In this installment, we will talk about strategic movement, the deliberate but covert method of using your body to get messages across to your audience.

Everything you have read up until this point applies to group presentations. Presentations before larger numbers of people simply offer a few more challenges and a few greater rewards.

If you are presenting to a group, you already know that you have something important enough to say to get the attention of the group. No one in the group showed up by accident.

There are a few keys to speaking before groups:

Know what you are going to say in advance. You don't have to write out your presentation. In fact, unless you are the President of the United States, no one will listen if you do.

Be aware and in charge of seating selection. If you are the key speaker and will be speaking from the one and only table you want to sit on an end or in the middle of one of the two sides.

If you have any known detractors of your idea, product or service, you should have them sit to your immediate left or immediate right. These are the least powerful positions on the table. Notice that in presidential press conferences where members of both parties are present at a seated table, President Clinton always has the house Republican leaders seated immediately next to him. These positions have no focal attention and people sitting here rarely speak with any credibility.

Utilize Strategic Movement. If you have to speak before a group and you have a podium you have an opportunity to make or break a sale by a strategy that I discovered by watching television evangelists. This strategy takes some time to master but is remarkably effective.

The most powerful nonverbal process you can use with an audience that must determine as a group to "buy" or "not buy" your ideas, products or services is that of strategic movement. Other sales trainers call similar strategies spatial anchoring. Both are applicable and here is what strategic movement is all about.

Do you remember Johnny Carson? He was the host of the Tonight Show for almost 30 years before Jay Len took over in the 1990's. Each night that Johnny came out he stood on a small star which marked exactly where he was supposed to stand. It was the best spot on the entire stage for camera angles, connecting with the audience and because of the curtain back drop, we knew without seeing Johnny's face that he was there and not a guest host, who would stand on a different star.

The only thing Johnny ever did from this specific location was make people laugh. He didn't wander around the stage and tell his jokes. He stood right there and made people laugh. There were many nights when Johnny literally could just stand on his star and people would laugh. That is spatial anchoring. Audience laughter was anchored (conditioned to) Johnny's standing on his star.

When I first visited NBC in 1984, I thought it was fascinating that only Johnny stood on that star. At the time I thought it was an ego trip or some bit of arrogance on the part of Carson. How wrong I was. I knew nothing at that time of spatial anchoring and strategic movement.

When you are called on to make your sales presentation (or any kind of a proposal) in front of a group, you are on stage. You are the star. You will want to select three specific points on the stage, or in the meeting room from which to speak. Each of these points is a specific location and not an approximate area. Point "A" is your podium. Podiums and lecterns are used by teachers and preachers. Normally these unconscious links are not positive reminders of younger days. Therefore, the podium (point "A") will always be used only to relay factual information to your audience.

You will choose a point to your left about four feet from your podium that you will deliver all of the bad news discussed in your presentation. (You can't make many sales without painting a vivid picture about how bad things will get if the corporation doesn't hire you.) The bad news point, is point "B" and you will only talk about problems and anything that is going to be perceived as "bad" by your audience. Point "B" will be approximately four feet to the left of the podium.

Point "C" will be approximately two and one half feet to the right of the podium and you will always paint uplifting, positive, exciting, motivating pictures from this location. Everything we want the audience to agree with will be discussed from this point after we establish this as the "good news point."

Imagine that you are giving your presentation for this group and you need to be very persuasive. My favorite example here is that of fund raising for a charity. Your job? Get a big check for your favorite charity.

You place your folder or notes on the podium and immediately walk to "B" point. You tell a story about a hurting child or a suffering individual. You then explain how this one incidence is far from isolated. You move to the podium. You expound the facts and figures about the devastation of the problem that you are asking the group to help solve by making a big donation.

Now you move to point "C," where you will become excited about how the charitable organization is currently solving the problems and helping the suffering you talked about at "B." Everything that is good and wonderful you will "anchor" into point "C."

As you conclude your speech you will have a path that you have laid. You have moved from A to B to C to B to A, several times. You conclude on point "C" because it is the good news and offers each person to participate in healing the wounds you opened at "B."

The truly unique tactic in strategic movement is the ability to subtly answer questions at the unconscious level without saying anything significant on the conscious level. Imagine that the audience is given the opportunity for questions and answers with you. An individual in the audience asks you about the groups considerations of donating to a competing charitable organization.

"Well, of course, you know that charity is a good charity and there would be nothing wrong with that...of course...(walking to point "C") by taking advantage of the plan that we have, we can accomplish all of the goals that you want to have accomplished in the community. I'm sure you realize it is up to you to make it happen. We can only help those who need it if you make a decision tonight."

Discussing the other charity in a neutral or slightly positive manner from point "B", allows you to unconsciously associate all of the negative feelings to your "competitor" and you solve the problem as you move to the "C" point. If you find this manipulative then you are working for the wrong charity. If anyone else is more qualified to help a group, sells a better product or offers a better service, you should be working for them!

There is no more powerful manner of utilizing space than that of spatial anchoring then using strategic movement. The next time you watch a great speaker, notice how he or she utilizes strategic movement. If they stay at the podium, notice how all the good news is given while gesturing with hand "A" and all the bad news is discussed when gesturing with the other hand, which is another great strategy. The greatest speakers are masters of spatial anchoring and strategic movement.

As you develop skill in spatial anchoring and strategic movement you can literally push buttons in people for various states of mind including anger, love, happiness and peace of mind simply by moving from point to point.

Professional Speaker
Kevin Hogan, Psy.D.


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