Martin Newman helped coach the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid team to victory. How did he do it? How did he get a team of Japanese people (notoriously reserved and formal) to not only show emotion, but inject enthusiasm into the International Olympic Committee and make a personal impact?

Simple. He used tried and true presentation techniques for personal impact and leveraged the visual over the verbal.

Next Article

Public Speaking: How to Not Get Eaten by Lions

Nobody would deny that public speaking is a huge cause of stress, anxiety, and fear. But it doesn’t have to be.
A staring lion face emerging from a shadowy background

3 Techniques for a Powerful Presentation Style That Works Anywhere on Earth

Though there are still preferences from different regions and cultures regarding presentation style, the era of Technovate is changing things.
Man speaking to an audience with a winning presentation style under warm lighting


The Persuasion of Personal Impact

Newman (00:02):

What I want to do particularly is, yes, talk a little about the Olympics and about the bidding process and my small part in that fantastic team. But particularly, to focus on skills drawn from that that I believe are of great value to you. These skills, I give two words to.

These words are—remember them—personal impact. The impression you leave on other people when you spend time with them.

The truth is that human beings make decisions, yes with their heads—they want the rational choice—but also with their hearts. They want the emotional choice. And if we look at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), this is particularly true.

Think about the choice of Rio. Was that the logical, safe choice? No, no. It was an emotional choice. Let’s go to Rio! Let’s have a party! Let’s take the games for the first time in history to a South American country! A big, emotional, appealing, world-changing, history-changing narrative.

And then Japan says, ” We’re safe.”

How did we get from being just the safe bid to this? We got there because we were able to put the passion with the rationality. To put the head and the heart together. Now, that’s very important because if your head is pointing in one direction and your heart is pointing in the other, then very often we know from the Olympic experience, the heart wins. We had to get those two things pointing in the same direction.

Pie chart showing the breakdown of personal impact in a presentation according to data from psychologist Albert Mehrabian

Presentation Breakdown for Personal Impact

New Speaker (02:26):

Albert Mehrabian had a very simple intuition. He thought, “If I make a statement—a statement such as ‘I love you’—with neutral emotion, how will it work? How will it be perceived? Will it be successful? If I make it with positive emotion, how will it work? How will it be received? If I make it with negative emotion?”

[Try it.] I love you. I love you. I love you.

There are three things going on.

  1. There are the words.
  2. There is the tone of voice.
  3. And there’s the body—the eyes, the face, the hands.

When they all work together, it’s fantastic. And when they don’t, disastrous!

The visual in [Mehrabian’s] data accounted for 55%, the vocal for 38%, the verbal for 7%. Personally, I slightly distrust figures these exact. We have a title for this talk, which is about the “art” and “science.” Don’t get too hung up on the data. There is more art than science in this, but it is worth remembering how important that is. And what that really means is that that words are 7% and other stuff is 93%.

What do we do with this? How do we take these interesting insights and turn them into something that helped Tokyo 2020 and that can help you?

Simplified pie chart of personal impact in a presentation, showing 7% impact of words and 93% impact of "other stuff"

Setting the Mood for Personal Impact

New Speaker (04:25):

The most important thing you need to do is decide the mood you want to create.

Switch the video camera on on your smartphone. Start talking. Film yourself. And then take a look. Play it back. [But] remember, what’s important here—it’s not the words. It’s the other stuff. So play it back without any volume. What happens when you do that is you see a gap. There is a gap between the mood you want to create and what you will see.

The Visual

The visual. How we stand: Do we stand with energy? Do we stand with confidence?

Our eyes.

Are we using our eyes? I’m not just talking about that tired old subject of eye contact. Are we using our eyes precisely? Are we using them with energy? Are we using them to communicate our warmth?

Our smile.

Are we doing a politician smile? Or are we smiling properly?

Our hands.

These are God-given gifts and one of the things that makes us human. Are we using them? Not just for the sake of using them. We’ve all seen the chief executive who presents with the “basketball method.” They’re always holding an invisible basketball. It means nothing, but they like holding that ball.

That’s the visual.

The Vocal

Newman (06:11):

The vocal. How we breathe, particularly.

Those of you who have kids—or who know kids—will know that when one of your children has done something amazing at school or with their friends, they’ll come back and they’ll be so excited. They say, “Dad! Dad! You won’t believe what happened today! I won the swimming cup!” And they’re breathing so fast because they are excited.

We did the same thing [with] Yuki Ota, our great fencer. He had these words: “500,000 people turned up on a weekday.” And you could say it just like that: “500,000 people turned up on a weekday.” But no, we worked very hard with Yuki on this. He worked very hard with me on this. And if you look at the tape, you will see him take three different breaths. And you will see him use his whole breath three times on three words. So this is what you get:

You don’t get “500,000 people came out onto the streets of Ginza . . .” You get “Five! Hundred! THOUSAND! People came onto the streets of Ginza!”

And by controlling his breath, he controlled his heart rate. He controlled his excitement. He communicated the passion.

The Verbal

New Speaker (07:31):

And then finally, the verbal. I don’t want to talk about the verbal.

The truth is that if the verbal supports the mood you want to create, then you’re in business.

This clip is part of a 2014 seminar with Martin Newman. Watch the full seminar here.

Get monthly Insights

Sign up for our newsletter! Privacy Policy