This book aims to tell the audience about the hidden qualities of influential people. It does so by saying that there are two characteristics of influential people – strength and warmth – which have to balance out to make a person highly influential. There are many different qualities of strength and warmth, which are explained in the book. These qualities are either non-verbal or verbal; things such as tone of voice, online reputation, and body language.
The authors – John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut – are founding partners in KNP Communications, which specialises in preparing speakers for high-stakes audiences. They regularly lecture at universities and serve as commentators on air and in print. This book’s target readership audience is aimed at business people who would like to become more influential speakers.
The way you use up space in a room says a lot about how much strength you project. Embodied cognition is how your body shapes your thinking processes. For instance, standing up with your back straight and at maximum altitude with your arms by your side will make you feel more confident a few minutes later. Putting this into practice is easy: Just stretch and hold a big position for a minute or so and give your glands time to adjust your blood composition. According to the book, stretching your chest, shoulders, neck and limbs seems to be especially helpful. Adopting these ‘strength poses’ a few minutes in advance of a high- stake presentation can reduce the butterflies and help you perform better by projecting more strength signals to the audience. I’ve tried this, and it actually does help with the butterflies.
If you want to influence just one person, try to match their strength and warmth signals. In the book, ‘mirroring’ is defined as copying someone’s body language. I think ‘mirroring’ can be summed up by another phrase in the book – “”tuning into the signals a person prefers to use when conveying strength and warmth, and respecting their preference by using similar strength and warmth signals yourself.”
Do your best to reduce vocal habits such as fillers and uptalk. Fillers are words such as ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ ‘like,’ and ‘you know’. Overcoming the filler habit requires become comfortable pausing between words or sentences. Hesitations such as ‘kind of,’ ‘like,’ ‘I think,’ or ‘I believe’ diminish the audience’s credibility and certainty of the speaker. We penalize deferential or polite speech, as well as the passive voice.
Stories work best when they feature people doing and feeling things, and when they create visual images in the minds of the audience. Connect with an audience by adapting to their current environment and seeing things from their perspective. Show the audience that you feel the same way they do. Use emotionally resonant language, changing the audience’s emotional reality. Showing your audience that you share their sense of how the world works is the most convincing credential of all.
To make sure that I don’t not lose sight of warmth when I’m issuing a command, warning, or a reprimand, I will cite the interests of the group as my reason for showing strength.
To match an individual’s strength and warmth signals, I will adapt my posture to mirror theirs, be in within their desired proximity, be on the same energy level as them, and follow their vocal volume and tonal range.
‘Landing the punch’ is a rhetorical technique that uses vocal pacing to stick a key point. The advice from the book is to do any explanation first, then end with a short statement that sums up the key point.
To overcome filler and uptalk, I will practice leaving silences and notice the effect these pauses have on the people who are listening. I will learn to replace the fillers with pauses. During my structured interviews that are coming up next week I will record myself speaking in the offending manner and then listen to it.
The easiest way to recover if you slip up into uptalk is to end the next sentence with a solid period, lowering your vocal pitch on the final syllable and then adding a beat pause for good measure. This suggests that you deliberately used uptalk to mark that idea as raising a question and now you have supplied the answer.
Establish an emotional rapport with the audience by connecting with shared interests or concerns. Direct, active verbs add clarity, force, immediacy, and vigour to speech. We equate rich vocabulary with verbal strength.
Learn the 101 Logical Fallacies.
Use your imagination to role play the character of an appropriate messenger. Basically pretend being them when you are practicing your delivery of a speech.
During the next birth-giving presentation, I will validate how my audience is feeling. I will express my determination to fix things, express a clear and thorough understanding of the problem and explain the concrete actions I would take to fix things.
Say ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’ when in my team company as these innocuous little pronouns make people feel a sense of connection. The use of ‘we’ generally demonstrates an awareness of other people and offers a way to show that you recognise or even understand their thoughts and feeling.
Avoiding an argument is the best chance of winning it. Use self-deprecating humour as a warmth signal.
Ask friends to give you true negative, constructive feedback of your performance so you can analyse it and change accordingly.
Focus on how your tasks connect to your values and your sense of who you want to be in the world.
Think about adjectives, words that describe what you want to be when speaking, before speaking to someone.
Develop a story first, before the slides or other supporting materials.
Five principle leadership skills: emotional intelligence, communications, organisational skills, Machiavellian political skills and contextual language.
Developing a vision is the act of defining the present and future reality. When it comes to reforming habits, there is no substitute for video.
Create a specific mantra for different public speaking situations, for example ‘Calm and slow’ Imagine yourself uttering a long scream at the top of your lungs before a presentation<LOL
Learn to speak extemporaneously instead of reciting speeches, as reciting speeches is more akin to an acting performance.
Most of the book is backed by scientific studies of people in leadership roles. These anecdotes that present case studies for the techniques outlined in the book give the ideas credibility.
After reading this book, I read and reviewed Act like a leader, think like a leader by Herminia Ibarra. Act like a leader, think like a leader relates to this book because it tells us that the only way to start thinking like a leader, is by acting like one first. You can have all the knowledge of all of these tried and true techniques, but the only way to actually start making the transition towards leadership is by acting on your knowledge. Even if it feels inauthentic at first. Ibarra talks about a strategy for this transition, which in the book is called ‘stepping-up’. The strategy is broken down into 5 stages. Stage 1 is Disconfirmation: feeling a gap between where you are and where you want to be have having an increased urgency to spur the first action steps. Stage 2 is Simple Addition: adding new roles and behaviours (without subtracting new ones). When I connect the ideas just mentioned to ideas from the book Compelling people, I come to a conclusion; in order to become more influential leader (and thinker), I first have to act by adding new behaviours (Simple addition) such as the ones I’ve learnt from Compelling People.