Sunday, January 13, 2013

Colin Powell's Presence

This post is about making an impact - from hello. 

Colin Powell does. You can too!

On today's edition of Meet the Press, the guest was General Colin Powell.  Whatever you think about General Powell's politics, no one can deny he is a man of tremendous significance and import in our world. 

I won't dwell on politics. Rather I'd encourage everyone to borrow from his communication style for your next business meeting - whether it's with your board of directors or your boss or your bridge club. 

Go watch the clip here and see for yourself. 

David Gregory opens with an 8-word question about Chuck Hagel, the former senator who has been nominated for Defense Secretary.  He asks Powell: "why do you think he should be confirmed?" Colin Powell launched into a 2:34 defense of his friend, Senator Hagel. 

Here are some Powell Presence Points to observe from a professional leader and commanding communicator:

  • He sat upright in a neutral position

  • He wore a strong suit/tie/shirt combo

  • He gestured with head, hands and eyes

  • He spoke without any notes at all

  • He spoke from his head, heart and gut

  • He sounded calm and conversational

  • He absolutely owned his message

What he achieved was what I call an "opening statement to the jury" where he laid out his case.  Can you do this in your next meeting? Sure. Rather than start with your head buried in a deck of slides, start upright with no notes.  As I said in my last post, you can even ask yourself an opening question to stay conversational and look relaxed.

Lay out your case for 2 minutes.  Before you get to slide one, you may get a question from the board or your boss.  Welcome it.  You are now back on your home court and you'll be fine.  Just as General Powell was with the stream of questions that followed. 

If you start any meeting like General Powell did today; you will own your stage from the first breath and you will establish a strong and commanding presence.  Try it. 

Perhaps General Powell, way back in high school in the Bronx, was a great communicator.  Perhaps not.  I'll bet you 20 bucks though, that he learned how to own his stage like this along the way.   

Mimic his style.  It works!

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