PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Win Trust & Gain A New Credibility with Mark Bowden

Mark Bowden is the number one body language expert in the world for the last couple of years. During the debut edition of our Present to Succeed conference, he shared with our audience the wonders of nonverbal communication.

Mark explained how you can stand out, win trust and gain credibility every time you communicate, focused on this new standard – the video conference, or video meeting, from your WFH office.

So, what is nonverbal communication and its neural architecture? Do you wonder why we respond to cameras and video the way we do? How can you capitalize on that?

Easy in, easy out

You get into any video conversation super easy – simply at the click of a button. And while it is a brilliant opportunity, there is a downside to it. It is also easy to get out.

You put little to no resources into it – you do not have to fly to attend our conference and Mark’s session, you do not even have to travel by train or car. The problem is that it is a low-risk opportunity for your audience. They rate your content lower when you present via video due to how little resources and risk they put into getting to your presentation. So, what are your options?

Mark recommends welcoming the audience into your house and engaging in a social interaction right away. Keeping it social is beneficial to both you and your audience. It brings you closer and creates a social obligation for them to stay and listen. Make your audience feel part of a group because, you guessed it – easy in, easy out.

By pointing at his friends printed on his The Behavioral Panel coffee cup Mark is welcoming the audience into a community.

Television and the 2-dimensional representation

You have been taught to be a passive consumer, and so has your audience. What do we mean by that? Well, every time you show up in front of a screen to watch another human being – you expect to watch and not interact at all. And your audience is doing the same – show up and be passive.

Break this pattern by asking your audience to participate actively. This way, they engage and invest more and perceive the outcome as even more valuable. Make them socially invest, and they will think the content was better. But how to get the conversation going?

Mark suggests introducing them to a community in which you are involved. Invite them to the social space you have created. We are in each other’s homes. That is unique. Imagine you came over to my house and you said nothing at all. That would be strange, right?

Another way is to start framing your slides. “I’m going to show you a slide/draft/chart/table, and the item I want you to look at is… and…”

Now, they will know where and what to look for and how to feel about it even before they see it. Otherwise, you will end up putting the slide up and stating, “As you can see on the slide…” but by that point, the audience will have already formed an opinion about it.

“…by taking this piece of paper and brushing it off the screen it gives you enough image change so that your reptilian brain goes: Wow, what happened there, there was a big change of picture there…”

Let your audience see your eyes

Let yourself be visible and often look at the camera. Eye contact tells them that you are safe and that things are going to get good. We all have a bias towards the person who holds strong eye contact.

Mark also mentions the Duchenne smile where both sides of your mouth turn up, and your eyes wrinkle. It triggers your audience into feeling that you already have an intimate relationship with them.

Mark shared another trick of his – he put a smiley face behind his camera. It takes that instinct and triggers you all the time to bring your eye contact to the camera, no matter what is going on around you.

He also makes a lot of open hands gestures that follow the beat of his speech. Why is that useful? It aids your audience to understand you through your movement as well. It helps grasp the words you are saying since they can sense words not just on your lips but also in your motions.

Then he demonstrates some “illustrator gestures” where you use your hands to illustrate what you are saying. Your audience’s brains love to see hands move and get thrilled when they see individuals being dexterous.

Mark explains that strong eye contact is linked to increased dopamine levels in the body – the “neurotransmitter of optimism”.

The background

The background gives your viewers a better understanding of your values. It signals what is essential to you and helps your audience judge you properly. If you display books, it suggests that you respect information; if you have a photo of your kids in view, it implies that you value family, and so on.

When asked what he thinks about virtual backdrops, Mark stated that he does not mind them unless it’s a picture with which you have no connection. If it has no personal relation, you are losing on the impact it has.

We establish a personal relationship with the individual and the environment in which we see them. You can let your audience see in seconds something that would take minutes to explain. If the image has nothing to do with you, your audience is forming associations with something that is not necessarily true for you. Look for a virtual background that says something about you.

We could not stop ourselves from asking about Mark’s lamps in the background. He says that they serve two functions. The first is that it offers your audience a sense of space ownership which equates to authority. The second reason is that they make a room feel brighter, warmer, and more welcoming. Mark says that film has been using this for decades, and art has used it for millennia.

Place a smiley face behind the camera to get triggered to smile at the audience.

Let’s summarize

Make people feel really welcome, especially if you present from your home. Bring your camera up to eye level. Make lots of eye contact. A smiley face drawn on a sticky note and placed right behind your camera can help you with that and also remind you to smile at your audience.

All in all, whether you are an employee, manager or company founder, the way you communicate your ideas with your body language helps your audience understand you a lot better. You might miss out if you do not use body language to your advantage. What could you do? Start with some of Mark’s advice and let us know what a difference they make for you!

Here are some extra resources to check for yourself:
The Importance Of Being Inauthentic: Mark Bowden at TEDxToronto
The Behavior Panel – YouTube
And by the way, you can always check our own Quick Guide To Online Presentations for free from our shop.

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!