How to take control of your next meeting or speech

You don’t have to be a control freak to hold your audience’s attention. Follow these steps—including the principle of ‘mirror neurons’ (yep, science)—to win them over.

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Think about the last meeting you attended that had either no discernible leader or a weak one. The meeting probably went on too long, the conversation surely meandered without purpose, and it’s unlikely anyone stepped up to rein in a dominant personality.

Here are a few ways to help you own the room:

1. Avoid looking defensive. If people challenge something you’ve said, you will be more likely to win over the audience by reacting with a calm, open tone.

2. Adjust your outlook. If something goes wrong, change your internal monologue from, “Oh, no, this is becoming a disaster,” to, “I’m a competent speaker and will regain control of the room in a moment.” You can then regain control by saying something such as: “This is a valuable discussion, and because it’s so important, I’m going to leave some time at the end of the session to continue the conversation. But in order to more fully inform that discussion, I’m going to move ahead and discuss two other points first…”

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