Good public speaking skills start with mindful preparation.
The key to high impact public speaking and presenting is contained in a number of timeless, real and very powerful truths.
We call it mindful presenting.
2020 has been a challenging, exhausting and troublesome year for all of us. The team at Mindful Presenter would like to help you take your public speaking and presentation skills to a whole new level in 2021. We hope this series of article will help you to do just that.
Truth 1 – Don’t be yourself
Far too many public speaking articles champion a flawed mantra. The secret to high impact public speaking is not to, ‘just be yourself’.
Adopting such belief gives you a license to: not prepare, not practice and ‘wing it’.
The key to high impact public speaking and presenting is to be, ‘your best self’.
If you don’t know what that looks and sounds like a really good public speaking coach will show you.
Truth 2 – Most people don’t prepare
I believe there are several reasons for this:
– They don’t know how to
– They claim they are too busy
– They don’t care about their audience
– They are lazy
– They live by truth 1
The truth is, you have to prepare. The absence of mindful preparation is a recipe for disaster. One of the laws of high impact public speaking and presenting is preparation.
If you don’t know how to prepare a content rich presentation and deliver it with confidence and impact a really good public speaking coach will show you.
Truth 3 – Everyone gets nervous
Please don’t let anyone tell you anything to the contrary. Everyone gets nervous; no exceptions.
How we manage and deal with those nerves and how visible, helpful or debilitating they are is another matter entirely.
The reasons are wide and varied. At the very heart of the feeling of anxiety, is the fact that most of us care. One of my favourite quotes when I think of this issue in relation to high impact public speaking is:
‘There are two types of speakers, those that are nervous and those that are liars.’ Mark Twain
Managing, harnessing and overcoming public speaking anxiety is an experiential challenge. There is a great deal that a good presentation skills coach can show you to help you to speak with confidence, authority and presence.
Truth 4 – There is nothing wrong with PowerPoint
For many audiences the mere thought of sitting through a PowerPoint presentation fills them with dread.
Most of us have experienced, ‘Death by PowerPoint’ or ‘Death by bullet point’.
The criticism is aimed at the user for misusing the tool not the software itself. It’s a fact that the human brain processes information more effectively when it is accompanied by images. It also helps a great deal when you use short, memorable statements. That’s why, simple but creatively stunning and relevant image-based slides will always be used by presenters to help them bring their message to life.
This time I’m not going to send you off to find a good public speaking coach. Everything you need to know to use PowerPoint for high impact public speaking is here: ‘21 Powerful PowerPoint Tips you really need to know.’
Truth 5 – Informed and engaged isn’t enough
In all of our high impact public speaking training courses and coaching sessions the first question we ask participants is: ‘How do you want your audience to feel’.
Sadly, the most common response we hear is ‘informed and engaged’. My melancholy stems from the belief that an intention to simply ‘inform and engage’ an audience is a prescription for mediocrity. Such a shallow intention has no place in high impact public speaking and presenting.
The truth is that our audience want to connect with us emotionally as well as intellectually. When it comes to high impact public speaking, connecting is everything.
If you don’t know how to connect with your audience, a really good public speaking coach will show you. Before you go rushing of to find one though, here are some great tips to help you; ‘The A to Z of Mindful Presenting: C – Connecting.’
Truth 6 – Most presentations are too long
Most people will forget up to 90% of what they heard by the time they return to their desk or their car. That’s a belief we hold here at Mindful Presenter. If our belief makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself the following questions 2 hours after you leave your next presentation.
– How much of what was said wasn’t of relevance to you?
– How much of what you heard you already knew?
– How much was an unnecessary level of detail?
– How much was repeated?
– How much of it was self-promotion for the presenter?
– How much of what you heard added little or no value to you?
– What do I actually remember?
At Mindful Presenter we help people to present the same message they have today with far greater impact in at least half the time it would normally take them. A high impact public speaking coach can help you to do the same through mindful preparation.
Here are a few ideas to set you on your way: ‘Most presentations are far too long – Less really is more!’
Truth 7 – One size doesn’t fit all
There really isn’t anything worse than sitting through a generic business presentation. In a previous article I wrote, I suggested that:
‘When it comes to public speaking and presenting, the mindful presenter knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Akin to the first bad habit, ‘fire, aim, ready, it’s lazy and disrespectful to assume that every audience is the same. In this Forbes article, ‘12 Pro Tips for Tailoring Your Presentation to Your Audience’ the author writes an important truth; ‘Every audience and venue is different and comes with its own energy and vibe’.
Once you’ve done your homework in understanding your audience tailor your message and approach to them personally.’
Truth 8 – You are not a tree
Stay with me, this one sounds strange I know.
“If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.” Jim Rohn
Many people avoid the idea of public speaking or find themselves overly anxious about presenting because they believe that, great speakers are born that way.
It’s not true, it’s a learned skill, which means that you can learn the art of high impact public speaking too. If you have the desire to learn the art, a really good public speaking coach will teach you.
Truth 9 – Your audience want the gold
Do you remember Truth 6?
One of the reasons most presentations are far too long is because they are filled with ‘noise’.
In a previous article called, ‘The A to Z of Mindful Presenting: F – Focus.’ I wrote: ‘Imagine you are panning for gold. You can be absolutely certain that most of what you will find is dirt, dust and gravel. If you filter long and hard enough you just may find a piece of gold. That’s our job as presenters, to filter the ‘noise’ until we find the gold.
A really good public speaking coach will show you exactly where to find the gold in your next presentation.
Truth 10 – You don’t have to meditate
The common misconception of the work we do at Mindful Presenter is that it’s all about meditating.
That’s not true either.
We love meditating and are huge advocates of the practice but that isn’t what we train or coach. High Impact public speaking and presenting stems from having a high level of awareness, consciousness and clarity.
A good meditation practice can be very helpful in enhancing these three key elements but it isn’t critical. I wrote about this in my article, ‘12 Powers of High Impact Presenting – Mindful Presenting.’
Whilst meditation can help, mindful presenting is more about thinking about the way we think about high impact public speaking. A really good public speaking coach will show you exactly how to think about high impact public speaking.
Truth 11 – There are 3 key measures of success
If you really want to know how successful your presentation was, ask your audience 3 questions afterwards.
1. How much and exactly what they remember
2. How you made them feel
3. What are they going to do now with the information you shared?
At Mindful Presenter we believe that success of high impact public speaking is measured by how the presenter helps their audience to remember their message, how the presenter makes them feel and what the audience does after the presentation.
A really good public speaking coach will show you exactly how to achieve all three of these goals.
Truth 12 – Leaders need to lead the way
Leaders have a significant role to play in helping people to present and speak with confidence. Leading the way in public speaking and delivering presentations in the workplace has to come from leaders.
This truth is powerfully aligned to the previous one. In my article, ‘The Presenting Challenge – How to inspire action and lead change.’ I wrote:
‘If you really want your team to speak with confidence, clarity, purpose and authenticity you have to lead the way; you have to show them how to do it. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you believe you do, get some honest feedback; get yourself some coaching.
If you don’t know how to lead the way in high impact public speaking for your team, a really good public speaking coach will show you.
Truth 13 – We all have a confidence thermostat
Do you remember Truth 3 – Everyone gets nervous?
Contrary to popular belief our experience is that everyone already has everything they need to present with confidence. We believe that we all have our own internal confidence thermostat which we can call on at any time; we just need to learn how to use it.
The following articles will help you to begin the journey and a really good public speaking coach will take you the rest of the way.
If you found some of these truths helpful, please watch out for part 2 in the series which will be coming soon.
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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