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 articles will help you to do just that.
Truth 26 – It’s like walking on fire
Public speaking and presenting in business can be stressful and anxiety provoking; a bit like walking on fire. Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers. It has been practiced all over the world for hundreds of years largely as a test of an individual’s strength and courage, or to prove the power of mind over matter.
I did it myself many years ago and what I remember the most were the 3 key elements it took for me to succeed.
Physiology – My posture, stance, breath and movement
Focus – The images and thoughts I held in my mind
Language – The stories and self- talk in my mind as I walked
Having successfully completed the fire walk I have held these 3 pillars as critical elements of high impact public speaking.
A really good public speaking coach will show you how to adjust and manage your physiology, focus and language. In the meantime, you’ll find the summary in this article helpful.
Truth 27 – You can’t read your audience
A common request we repeatedly hear from our high impact public speaking workshop participants and coaching clients is; ‘Can you show me how to read the audience?’
We suggest another approach. Rather than trying to ‘read’ them we help our clients to connect instead. High impact public speaking and presenting is challenging enough without trying to second guess what your audience are thinking. Attempting to do so can often severely hinder rather than help you.
Imagine the following scenarios, a member of your audience:
– Looks at their watch or phone
– Whispers to the person sitting next to them
In all cases each behaviour could be very misinterpreted by the presenter as those audience members being bored, disinterested or lost.
The reality is, people yawn, look at their watches and phones and they like speaking to each other; even during presentations.
If by ‘’reading’ them you are making the judgement or assumption that something is wrong you will be doing them and yourself a huge disservice.
Don’t try to read your audience unless everyone is yawning, checking their phones or whispering as you speak.
Truth 28 – It’s not a good question
Have you ever sat through a presentation and when it came to question time the presenter responded to someone’s question saying, ‘“That is a really good question and I am glad you asked it.”?
If you have, then imagine how you would feel if you asked the next question and the presenter didn’t acknowledge it as a ‘really good question’.
It happens a great deal and is one of the most common first responses to a question. The trouble is, it’s a lazy response and is often regarded as such or feels patronising or annoying to the rest of the audience.
Have you noticed how many presenters still say this when everyone else in the room knows full well that it isn’t a good question?
Even if it is a good question, don’t do what everyone else does, just answer the question.
If you’d like to know more about how to answer difficult questions a really good public speaking coach will help you. In the meantime, there are some very helpful tips in this article:
Truth 29 – The first few words matter
If you cast your mind back to Truth 14, you’ll remember that, ‘Nobody cares who you are’. This truth is very closely aligned but extends beyond crafting a high impact opening; it’s literally about the first few words.
Have you every attended a presentation where the first words the speaker uttered were:
– Let’s be clear
Remember, the moment you stand in front of an audience you have just seconds to capture their undivided interest and curiosity. You already have their attention; they turned up to listen to you speak.
Choose your first few words very mindfully. If you need help, a really good presentation coach will work through this with you. In the meantime, take a look at some of the ideas in this article:
Truth 30 – Be in the right room
This truth relates largely to business meetings on the basis that in most meetings, there is often some form of presentation taking place.
Having spent many years in the corporate world myself I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon taking place. Imagine that in the same way a house has a number of rooms I’d like you to entertain the wild notion that our own minds have several rooms.
I call it ‘The house of being’. It’s just a mental construct for picturing the mind with several rooms. When it comes to business meetings, I’d like to suggest that whilst everyone may be in the same physical or online room, they are often in different rooms in their own mind.
Stay with me, this sounds strange I know.
Imagine the following mental rooms in your mind:
– Looking good room – This is where all you care about is how well you come across, how good, clever, responsible and creative you are.
– Explain/justify room – This is where you’re just trying to survive and get through the meeting /presentation unscathed.
– Dominate/avoid domination room – This is where it’s all about you winning at all costs.
– Right /wrong room – This another ego-based room in which you have little interest in anyone else.
– Connect room – This the most valuable and helpful room in our minds. It where everything you say and do is mindfully done to bring people together.
When you are in a meeting, speaking or presenting ask yourself which room you really want to be in. Check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you are in the right room.
Truth 31 – We need to warm up our voices
‘The human voice is the most beautiful instrument of all, but it is the most difficult to play.’ Richard Strauss
In our high impact public speaking workshops and coaching sessions, we ask people to speak more powerfully using their physical voice.
As a presenter or public speaker, you have a great number of gifts at your disposal; some people may call them tools. One of your greatest assets is your voice, yet this is often the most neglected tool we have. In a previous article, ‘9 Ways to Improve your Presenting and Public Speaking Voice’, I wrote:
‘The verbal expression of our message is of course vitally important. Volume, pitch, pace, tone and pausing are just a handful of the many key elements that require our careful attention when we want to speak with impact.’
Unfortunately, most presenters neglect warming up, stretching and developing their voices in the mistaken belief that’s only what singers or actors do.
Warm up you voice. This brilliant video shares some simple but highly effective exercises to help you.
Truth 32 – How do you measure confidence?
At Mindful Presenter we believe that one of the best ways to measure confidence is through the way people communicate. Good communication and presentation skills aren’t a pre-requisite of confidence of course but they help a great deal.
Finding, valuing and expressing your true voice is a very liberating feeling. Regardless of your age, life experience or what you do for a living you will feel infinitely more confident when you learn how to share your voice with authority, presence and impact.
You will see from a previous article I wrote, ‘20 Reasons everyone needs presentation skills training’, why learning the art of high impact public speaking will help your confidence soar.
Truth 33 – Make your presentation colourful
Most of us haven’t really changed since we left nursery school or kindergarten.
We still all have an inner child which is stimulated by, stories, colour, drama, surprise, energy, excitement and fun.
That’s why many of us find your typical business presentation today so boring; many are missing these critical ingredients.
When it comes to high impact public speaking it’s not about the data, it really is about the impact you have on your audience.
A really good public speaking coach will show you how to make your presentation colourful and bring it to life.
Truth 34 – You drive your presentation success – own it
I’d like to present a few presenting challenges many professionals face in the workplace today. They include having to:
– Present content which isn’t yours
– Share content you don’t like or agree with
– Give a presentation you have had little time to prepare for
At Mindful Presenter, we would argue strongly that these are not presentation skills training issues. They are leadership and cultural issues.
If anyone tries to make you do any of these three things it means that, they don’t care about you and they certainly don’t care about your audience.
High impact public speaking and presenting is about ownership. I realise that it takes great courage but we owe it to our audience to push back.
Do not do any of the above.
You don’t need a public speaking coach for this, just courage and strong values.
If you found some of these truths helpful, please watch out for part 4 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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