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Even if you're not an official leader at your company, chances are you'll have to hold a meeting or present an idea to your team at some point in your career. But are you sabotaging your ability to engage your team during meetings or presentations? Embracing your creativity, spontaneity, and flavor can seem inappropriate in the “real world.” For years, you were told that, in order to be a professional, you had to ACT professional. But what does that mean exactly? Most people think “acting professional” means leaving your personality at the door when you walk into the office. But that’s the worst thing you can do if you want to engage your team during meetings or presentations. In fact, if you DON’T share a little personality in your voice, you’ll put them right to sleep. According to Dan Moriarty, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company, voice modulation is a key skill that presenters need to leverage in order to connect with an audience. Voice modulation, the ability to a change the pitch, volume, tone, or inflection of your voice, will allow you to convey important information in a way that engages your audience. Next time you have to hold a meeting or present an idea, think about how your words are coming across to your audience. Are you monotone or are you changing the tone, pitch, volume, and inflection of your voice as you get excited, frustrated, or thoughtful? Being able to do this will allow you to get and hold your team’s attention. Showing this kind of emotion when you speak might seem strange at first, but that’s okay, according to Moriarty. “Have courage to step outside yourself, to feel uncomfortable, to feel awkward,” said Moriarty, “because when you do that, when you’re awkward, when you’re vulnerable, you allow those around you permission to go there with you.” So, if you’re struggling to engage your team during meetings or presentations, allow yourself to show emotion and personality when you speak. You might be surprised at the response!

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There’s a sneaky little secret that will help you market yourself to anyone. And I bet you haven’t heard of it before... Have you ever worked on a team with someone who wasn’t very motivated? Most of us have worked with someone like this. Don’t you just wish you could take that person and MAKE them do the work they need to do? Don’t you just wish they could feel the same motivation you feel to get the project done? If you’re leading a sales team, can you make them believe in the product you’re selling? If you have a teenager, can you make them happy about the family road trip you’re about to take? Well, unfortunately, you can’t. “You can’t put emotions into people,” said Lidia Arshavsky, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company. However, there’s good news - you CAN draw emotions out of people. And the best way to do this is by feeling the emotion first. For example, if you believe the product you’re selling is the best product on the market, your sales team is going to believe it to - that emotion is going to spread, it’s going to be infectious. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to this truth, according to Arshavsky. “What happens when you go to a job interview and you don’t feel completely confident that this is the right match for you, that you can do this job?” she said. “How is that interviewer going to feel? They’re not going to feel confident either.” In this situation, what can you do? You need to tap into the things you DO feel confident about - your ability to learn, your eagerness to join the company, your enthusiasm for the work. You need to access those things and let them radiate. “Emotions are contagious,” said Arshavsky, “let that emotion fill the room.” The next time you want someone to feel an emotion, take a step back and let yourself feel that emotion first. If you want to market yourself to an employer or market your product to your customer, you must tap into these emotions.

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Have you ever lead a meeting or a discussion at work? If so, you've probably encountered that person who's not paying attention to what you're saying. He or she might be on the phone, staring off into space, or writing emails on the computer. This behavior is distracting and disrespectful, but how can you stop it from happening? Here are a few ways you can deal with a rude colleague during meetings:

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I’ve given a lot of bad presentations in the past, but there was one that was particularly painful. I was in college and I had to share a presentation on an assignment we had. I hated presentations. But there I stood, in front of a packed class of students, ready to speak. I was nervous. In fact, I had to set down my notes because I was shaking so badly. I didn’t want to sound stupid. Out of desperation, I started reading off my slides. The same slides everyone else was reading. They weren’t that impressive. Just a few points and some data to back up my findings. Nothing crazy. I glanced across the room at the rest of the students. Some were on their phones. Some were looking off into space. Others were doodling in their notebooks. But no one was listening to what I had to say. No one cared. So, what did I do wrong? I didn’t create an emotional connection with my audience. There are so many presentations out there that just focus on the data. While data is important, it doesn’t necessarily make an emotional connection with an audience. But what does? Storytelling. “Human beings are hardwired to love stories,” said Robin Amos Kahn, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company. “. . . We need stories. We need to share our stories. Stories move us.” Telling powerful stories is an artform. It allows you to connect with your audience emotionally and draw them into what you’re saying. But when was the last time you started a presentation with a story? The next time you give a presentation, start with a compelling story that relates to your topic and moves your audience. Want to increase your communication skills? Check out our course “How To Improve Your Communication Skills At Work” to become a better communicator and learn how to work with others more effectively.

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