In my Get to the Message Workshop, we experiment using Argentine Tango skills to become more connected and engaged with the audience.
Upright Posture Is Crucial to Look Confident
Just by a person’s stance, each audience member makes a decision on that presenter’s level of confidence. People are told to stand up straight all the time, but there are conflicting views on how to do it. Tango provides clear guidelines on how to stand up straight.
- Roll your shoulders back so your scapula drops.
- Bring your ribs together to protect your back.
- Stand on your big toe mounds and your heel. Why? Standing on your big toe mounds makes you use your inner muscles. Your heel makes you use your hamstrings.
- Project your sternum forward and upwards all the while keeping your ribs together. This makes you raise your head.
Intentional Walking Is Crucial to Appear in Charge
A presenter must walk and look purposeful, not anxious and unengaged. Tango shows you how to walk.
- First, maintain your posture.
- Second, use your standing leg to move, not your free leg. Walking forward with your weight on your left leg, push the left foot into the floor before moving instead of reaching your right leg forward. Your right leg will follow when you push your left foot into the floor and use your gluteus muscles to walk. Esther Gokhale describes it best. She also sells a wonderful little bean bag to put on your head and practice walking around.
Listening Is Crucial to Connect With Your Audience
Certainly a presenter has something to say and has planned very well. But for most executive presentations, success occurs when the presenter can change directions depending on the audience’s reactions to the topic.
How do really good tango dancers look so amazing and so connected? Here’s a secret: one person leads, but then WAITS and LISTENS to feel what the follower does with that lead. If the follower intentionally or unintentionally goes in another direction or does a different type of step than the leader planned, the leader follows the follower. I love how a very seasoned tango leader will go where the follower has chosen to step and improvise. In other words, a seasoned tango leader does not stop the dance and tell the follower, “I did not lead that.”
Likewise, presenters cannot tell an executive that they do not want to discuss something. The presenter follows the executive’s direction—resulting in an engaged executive. The presenter plans a “presentation/dance” but may end up doing the executive’s dance instead. Just as tango leaders adjust to the follower, presenters should adjust to their audience to keep the presentation interesting and the audience engaged.
Again and again, participants in my workshops say they want to engage their audience. But many presenters pay no attention to engagement clues from the audience. Whatever they decided to do before entering the room, they keep going in that direction with this mindset: “I planned to cover this information and I’m going to do it.” Consequently, they do not create a connection with the audience. You cannot have an engaged audience unless you let them participate.
Click here to see an Argentine Tango couple who connect and walk with such amazing ease all the while being on one leg.
Practice upright posture behaviors, walk with your glutes and let your audience guide what you say and how much you say about a topic.
Claudyne Wilder runs a boutique presentation business. Wilder Presentations offers Get to the Message presentation workshops and consulting services to organizations ranging from Fortune 500 pharmaceutical firms to community-based non-profits. Claudyne is the creator of TorchMetrics, an innovative online tool that operates on your device as a customized speaking coach.
With a Masters in organizational development, Claudyne coaches on including the right content with the right number of details as well as on message-oriented slides and a persuasive, engaging delivery. Having extensively studied Argentine Tango for over ten years, she brings the idea of “connection” to her clients to help them more passionately engage with their audience.