This article shares 12 tips to help you to communicate effectively when presenting.
Mindful presenting offers the pathway to the art of persuasion, influencing and human connection. It is the strategic key to communicating effectively and the route to high impact public speaking and presenting.
The key to personal and professional contentment and success is to communicate effectively
We each have two voices; our inner dialogue and of course, the one others can hear.
Much of our advancement revolves around how we get others to see things from our point of view. To win people over to our way of thinking we have to communicate effectively.
The ability to communicate effectively will help you to:
– Gain support for an idea,
– Diffuse an emotional charge,
– Deal with opposition
– Change the world in some way
Many people think that presenting is something reserved for those who have to speak to clients and colleagues using PowerPoint
I learned as a small boy growing up in a large family, with 3 sisters and two brothers that the need to persuade, influence and connect is our greatest challenge. It starts long before we enter the workplace.
Let’s focus on how to communicate effectively at work
1. Focus on your ‘M’ Point
Your ‘M’ Point is your personal moment of truth.
Before we even begin to craft our presentation we need to have absolute clarity on what we want from our audience after we have delivered our message. In other words, what exactly is it that we what them to think, feel and do the moment we finish speaking.
Focusing on your ‘M’ point requires a great deal of conscious thought to your motivation for calling people together in the first place.
What is their motivation for turning up to listen to you speak?
What do you want them to think, feel and do?
2. ‘ Perception is reality’
I believe that it was the great Albert Einstein who said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
To communicate effectively we need to very carefully consider our audience’s reality. In other words, how do they see things,?
Do we share common ground on our perspectives?
– How much do they know already?
– Why should they care?
– How will your message help them and what difference will it make to their personal or professional lives?
– What’s so different and special about your way of thinking?
3. Spot the weakness
Never make the assumption that just because you think that your idea or message is a good one, or indeed the right one for your audience, that they will too.
Discerning professionals have no time or patience for presenters who expect them to believe every word they say simply because they said it.
To communicate effectively we have to mindfully consider in great detail the potential flaws in our message. It’s our job as presenters to spot the weaknesses before our audience does and present them transparently with thoughtful answers and solutions.
Your audience won’t forgive you for making them do the work that you should have done for them.
4. Leave your ego at your desk
Are you ready for an uncomfortable truth about public speaking and presenting?
No one really cares about you
It sounds harsh doesnt it? Let me put that awful statement into context?
Your audience don’t want to hear:
– How many offices you have
– The number of widgets you make and sell each year
– A full acount of your organisations history and values?
What matters the most to them is whether what you have to say is of value to them and will make any difference to their lives.
Make sure that everything you say, show and do is personal, relevant and of value to your audience
In other words, make your presentation entirely about them and not about yourself.
5. Make the first 5 minutes count
Don’t save your key message for the end of your presentation.
Let your audience know as quickly as you can exactly why:
– You’ve called them together
– How you can help them.
Please don’t start by telling them how many offices you have and how many widgets you make each year.
Don’t try to impress them, try this instead:
Make them feel at ease
Capture their interest and curiosity immediately; you already have their attention.
6. Stop the noise
One obstacle to communicating effectively is our own inner voice.
The one in your mind that quietly whispers, what if:
They don’t like me?
My audience know more than I do?
I forget what to say?
They ask me a question I can’t answer?
These may be valid questions to ask, but the wrong place to ask them is when you are standing right in front of your audience, just about to speak.
We each have our own personal inner voice
It’s the ‘noise’ that challenges us before we utter a word.
Spend a few minutes just before you present taking a few slow deep breaths or meditating to slow down the noise.
The moment you stand to speak take a deep breath, pause and smile.
Feel your feet grounded to the floor and let those troublesome thoughts float away like clouds.
Your audience want you in the room; all of you.
7. Be quiet
To communuicate effectively we need to pause occasionally.
Unfortunately many speakers find that a moment of silence feels like an eternity to them in their mind. The reality is that most of us speak much faster than our audiences can listen. They want little more from us than to slow down and to pause briefly every now and then.
Silence is not only a powerful force, it is a presenter’s ally.
Find the courage to use it wisely.
8. Know it in 90
When it comes to presenting, the theory that ‘less is more’ is an extremely valuable and recommended one.
The Mindful Presenter invests a great deal of time, energy and effort getting to know their message inside and out to the point that they could, if asked to, deliver it in 90 seconds.
Make a point of knowing your message by being able to share it with clarity, impact and power in 90 seconds or less.
I’m not talking about delivering any of your presentations to a real audience in 90 seconds. My suggestion is that if you practice focusing on your message with laser like clarity and purpose in under 90 seconds, when you have the gift of time to do so in 20 minutes everything comes together more easily.
9. Assume nothing
In the process of crafting your presentation don’t assume that:
– Just because you know what you are talking about that your audience will too.
– Because you believe in what you are saying that your audience will too.
– They are familiar with your choice and use of language, keep it simple.
Please avoid these assumptions too
– Someone yawns or looks at their watch that they are bored. If they are all constantly looking at their watch and yawning then you know they are bored.
– That your audience have understood you, check in with them.
– If no one asks a question that they don’t have any; have a few ready yourself to share and encourage them to open up.
10. Show them, don’t just tell them
Anyone can present with varying levels of confidence and clarity. Some professionals make the mistake of thinking that all they have to do is tell their audience what’s on the slides or on their script and they have given a good presentation.
To communicate effectively we have to bring our presentation to life
Make sure that your words are completely congruent with the way you express them both verbally and non-verbally. That means:
– Making effective eye contact
– Using your voice by adjusting your tone, volume, pitch and pace,
– Using hand gestures
– Moving meaningfully to own the platform
– Telling stories
– Being animated
– Being facially expressive
– Speaking with passion and conviction
11. Scan your body
We owe it to ourselves and our audience to bring awareness and acknowledgement to where we feel it in our body.
In their brilliant book, ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’, Danny Penman and Mark Williams offer an extremely powerful audio which teaches us how to scan our own bodies.
I’ve include the meditation in the YouTube video below.
12. Choose a word and a number
Remember your ‘M’ point?
Once you’ve decided how you want your audience to feel, the most important way to help them to feel it is to feel it yourself.
You can’t expect people to feel passion or excitement if you don’t feel it yourself
You have to live the feeling first so that they can see, hear and experience it in you.
Saying that you are excited or passionate isn’t enough. Sometimes we have to make ourselves feel it.
Practicing the following exercise will help you learn to tune in to the emotion you want your audience to feel.
Choose the emotion very carefully
– Imagine that emotion on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 represents every part of you being filled with that emotion at its highest level.
– Decide how much you want to feel of that emotion yourself, in other words choose a number. 8 is often a helpful place to be.
– Use your imagination to hold in mind what that emotion looks, sounds and feels like in your experience and be that number.
– Step into that feeling.
– Repeat until you feel it.
If you’d like to learn to communicate effectively:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
Image courtesy of: istock.com