I RECENTLY WATCHED A senior businessperson extol the virtues of his company to a large audience. Every time he said “me” or “us,” he seemed to slap his chest. Twice he struck the lectern with his fist to make a point, but his timing was off and his points fell embarrassingly flat. Once or twice he said “you” speaking to the audience and suddenly thrust his hands out like an evangelist saving souls. On top of that, he read his speech with his eyes down most of the time.

It was clear to me that someone had tried to coach this man to speak and botched the job. The exec wound up looking self-conscious, rigid, and robotic, with the result that in spite of all the apparent training he did not go over well with his audience.

When ...

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