“I come back to the same thing: We’ve got the greatest pipeline in the company’s history in the next twelve months, and we’ve had the most amazing financial results possible over the last five years, and we’re predicting being back at double-digit revenue growth in fiscal year ‘06”. Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft delivering the end of year financial results.

What a strong, positive and exciting message this leader was able to deliver to Microsoft’s internal and external audiences. The genuine passion and heartfelt emotions he would easily have drummed up, whilst delivering this positive end of year statement, would have almost automatically led to a compelling and powerful presentation impact. Microsoft was winning, the shareholders were winning, the employees were winning and Steve Ballmer was winning.

However, many end of year messages that leaders have to deliver are not so victorious. How can one deliver an inspirational message if the results are poor, painful and dull? How can a leader be compelling to their audience when inside they are fighting a sense of failure, confusion and disheartenment?

As a leader you are constantly standing in a spotlight. It can be an extremely exposing and vulnerable position. Your key audiences will be making constant judgements about your ability to lead. They will be questioning your authenticity: Can I trust you? Can I follow you? Do I like you? Shall I work hard for you? Do I believe in you? Do I believe in your vision and mission for the next year? Will you deliver on your promises? Do you care for me? How much do you care for the organisation? The list goes on…. Any self-doubt that you have when in the spotlight shows and it can have a lasting damaging effect on your key audiences.

55% of a first impression is based on a leader’s physicality, 38% is based on their vocal delivery and only 7% is based on the word content of the message. Your emotional and physical state is always affecting your physicality and voice – that elusive 93%. If you are “out of harmony” your voice will not ring true. You will seem unauthentic and fake.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to yourself, the shareholders, employees and the organisation to enhance your skills in these practical areas. If you only concentrate on the 7% of content without fine tuning the other 93% you are constantly diffusing your impact. Your physicality, voice and use of language are the means by which you communicate with other people. It is through these means (in acting terms, your “instrument”) that you convey your precise thoughts and feelings. Therefore, the more responsive and efficient your instrument is, the clearer will be the impact of your message.

Research suggests that many senior people would rather die than public speak! Yet, these nerves and lack of confidence show. Fear leads to “winging it”, which leads to missed opportunities to maximise impact; shareholders, clients, peers and employees could see you as inarticulate with no clear aim or objectives and will not be easily bought in.

Therefore, how can a leader be compelling not only when delivering positive messages but also through the day-to-day communication challenges that being a leader in the spotlight always brings?

The more you are able to be authentic in your communication, and demonstrate that authenticity through strong skills in practical delivery, the more compelling you will be. The amount you believe in what you say relates directly to the amount your key audiences will believe in and trust what you say.

A message is delivered through facts and emotions; most business leaders are technically skilled, yet emotions can be suppressed. In order to be compelling you need to deliver facts with clarity in ways that release the emotional response each word in the message demands, in order to justify an authentic reaction and buy-in from an audience. Unfortunately, under pressure it is very easy to cut that link between your internal emotional response to your message and how you deliver it to the outside. It is easy to act the presenter/leader as opposed to being fully present (I will explore Presence in a later blog). I am sure you have switched off from listening to many presenters who demonstrate such symptoms of poor style.

The old style of dictatorial leadership has gone and a new breed of successful executives is emerging; ones who have taken the time to develop high level emotional intelligence skills and an authentic and compelling leadership presentation impact style.

Of course you could carry on without improving – it is easy for the likes of Steve Ballmer to deliver end of year statements with a compelling leadership presentation style when he genuinely feels that happy! However, when a leader is trying to be compelling delivering more challenging messages, then that takes some time to develop. One to one coaching support will make sure you get it consistently right. You owe it to the organisation, you owe it to your employees but most importantly you owe it to yourself to ensure that your leadership presentation style is pro-actively developed rather than passively endured. This is what Marcus-Wolf does, and does well.

For enquiries about bespoke one to one leadership presentation programmes please contact me for a confidential exploratory conversation:  +44 (0) 7961 373 774 or email Nicolette@marcus-wolf.com