Successful innovation is fascinating as it combines the best of intelligent thought with expressing it in a way that emotionally “moves” others into action. This combination is often a challenge as many gifted, technical innovators prefer to focus on ideas, software, and gadgets more than on people. The sales and marketing types like focusing on the customer more than on the mechanics of what they are selling. Very few seem to balance or handle both equally well. Yet for those who do, for instance: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison, to name a successful few, the rewards can be very rich indeed.
I have had the privilege to work with many organizations in the IT and Telecommunications areas, regarding their leadership, sales, and presentation skills. From that experience, I can say that when technicians relax and get clear on the power and leverage available to consciously communicate using their body language, the magic starts to happen.
I have noticed that for innovators, the most common wake-up call comes when they get clear over how much information their bodies express, regardless of whether they are aware of it or not. All too often a brilliant idea never leaves the PowerPoint slide because its delivery either annoyed the listeners or puts them to sleep. The content and delivery of your message must attract and inspire in order to reach the next step. You may have invented the perfect mousetrap, but if you cannot present it in a way that inspires and engages your listener, then who are you really talking to? For instance, an interesting thought to ponder is how the world would now look if Leonardo Da Vinci had inspired himself and others to actually construct some of his inventions while he was alive. Instead, it took 500 years to realize most actually worked. Even though he seems to have been a student of self-expression (witness Mona Lisa’s smile), could he practice more of what he preached?
A critical skill for successful self-expression is the more conscious use of our most important communication tool, our own body. Below are some simple tips.
Be Present. If you insist on remaining “up in your head” when speaking, count on leaving your listeners behind. Learn to serve them (and ultimately yourself) by dancing here and now with their questions and addressing their concerns. Your knowledge of your subject and how to deliver it will flourish when in a way it can be heard, understood, and acted upon. The key? Be Here, Now and serve!
Relax and be open. Can you catch more money and ideas in a tightly clenched fist or an open and relaxed palm? Stress shortens your life, calm lengthens it.
The choice is yours.
Feel more. The key to becoming more present is feeling. After all, when is the only time you can feel anything other than here and now? So, if you feel some butterflies in your stomach, a pain in the neck, sadness, anger, joy, or even fear… Congratulations, you are still alive! Take a deep, joyous breath and begin focusing your intellect and energy on the efficient delivery of your message.
Inspire. The word inspire comes from Latin and means “breathe in spirit”. To bring any innovation into existence you will need to inspire yourself and others into action. The easiest way to begin is to inhale more air. Notice what happens to the power and believability of you and your message. We are all essentially wind instruments. Just like a flute or tuba, the more air you use, the more power and feel you can resonate with your listener.
React less/Respond more. React means to “act again”, respond means to “answer back”. The first is an automatic process often triggered by an old, often forgotten behavior pattern. The second may start with the exact same stimulus, yet adding a bit of conscious reflection you can respectfully answer back in a way that moves your conversation and its possibility forward, towards your innovative goal.
Demonstrate Respect. As Aikido master Yoshigosaki suggests, “treat your listeners in a way which shows you, “understand that you have no understanding of who they are“. What kind of response and support will you receive when you practice treating others with all the wonder and curiosity of a small child?
Could this enhanced level of respect inspire the insight and finance to further your cause?
Appreciate all your contributions. You may think that what was said was the dumbest thing you ever heard, especially with its reference to your brilliant innovation. Yet, what if that is the best response the speaker could currently muster? What if he/she is looking for your support and guidance to understand your message enough to write you a big check?
The more you practice and embody these body language fundamentals, the more you will be able to express, implement and even monetize your great ideas.