How do you present yourself in meetings and presentations? This article is designed to give you some tips and tricks for making the kind of impact that is memorable, clearly communicates your message and moves you forward.

What is power? In a recent meeting with several women, the consensus was that power is confidence, preparation and the ability to influence.

One quick way to feel your power is to perform the Wonder Woman (or Superman) pose. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, ball your hands into fists and place them on your hips, pull back your shoulders, raise your chest, lift your chin about 45 degrees, and take a few deep breaths. What this does is allow you to take in more oxygen; and by raising your head, the fear that lives in your reptilian brain (at the base of the skull) gets turned off. It lowers your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and raises your testosterone (like it or not, the power hormone). Try this every morning to set the stage for a powerful day. Try it before important meetings. Trust me, it works!

To prepare to communicate effectively, I ask myself the following questions:

• Is it the right time (is the audience ready for this message)?
• Is it accurate or true?
• Is it necessary?
• Is it appropriate (is this my business; do I need to get involved)?
• Is it kind?

The key to making an impact is to be brief. Use declarative statements and eliminate unnecessary qualifiers that weaken your position. Statements like “I think,” “I believe” and “What about . . .?” are not power phrases. Try using “In my experience . . .,” “The problem is . . .,” “The solution is . . .”

Avoid the temptation to fill silences with unnecessary talking. Master the power of the pause. After your state your position, pause for about 20 seconds. This allows your audience to ponder what you’ve said and formulate questions. It also allows you time to prepare to move the conversation forward.

How do you handle a disagreement? I suggest phrases such as “I see your point” and “tell me more about . . . ” Eliminate “but” from your vocabulary. “But” invalidates everything that came before it. It is far more powerful to use “and,” which acknowledges the other person’s position without having to agree with it.

People tend to want to help other people. A powerful tool to get people to do what you want is to ask them for help. A good phrase is, “I have a problem, and I need your help.” State the problem, then work together on potential solutions. Finally, decide on the solution and get everyone’s commitment to follow through.

To verify that your message is clear, it’s a good idea to have the other person restate what you’ve said. Say something like, “I know I talk pretty fast; just to be sure I was clear, can you outline what you are going to do?” Then respond with, “Just so I’m clear, you said . . .”

The final aspect in effective communication is to be done. In other words, as the popular song goes, “Let it Go.” I like to ask myself, “Do I need to be right, or do I want to be happy?” Sometimes it’s just not worth it. Recognize that you did the best you could do with the knowledge, experience, and ability you had at that time.

About Your Columnist

Brenda Grow is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers corporate communications. As an independent consultant specializing in commercial insurance, leadership and communication training, she has a B.A. from CSULB and a master’s in psychology from Pepperdine University. Brenda has over 30 years of experience at a regional independent insurance agency where she held several positions, including an executive leadership role. Contact her at Brenda Grow.

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