A mindful presentation is one which has been carefully crafted to make a difference. With few exceptions most aspects of life involve some form of presentation taking place.
We are always trying to influence, persuade or convince others. At the very least we try to get them to see things from our perspective. From cradle to grave one of the favourite words we all love to hear is, ‘Yes’. Professor Robert Cialdini, author of ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ tells us that, ‘Researchers have been studying the factors that influence us to say “yes” to the requests of others for over 60 years.’ With so many human interactions involving communication it makes sense that we make every exchange a mindful presentation.
Mediocre presenters play ‘follow the leader’, they do what everyone else does. The mindful presenter follows a few powerful principles which allows for every communication being a mindful presentation.
If you’d like to learn how to design and give a mindful presentation follow these 5 steps:
Step 1 – Own it
Mindful presenting begins with taking complete personal responsibility for every aspect of the presentation. That responsibility includes:
– Making the decision as whether to present in the first place. If the communication would be simpler and better served by the written word, send an email or document instead.
– Knowing your audience. That means not just looking at their LinkedIn profiles; it means speaking to them in advance too.
– Having a clear, compelling and tangible message.
– Taking the time and energy to manage anything which won’t serve you or your audience well.
– Ensuring that you don’t take 30 minutes to say what you could in 10.
– Not making any assumptions or judgement about your audience.
– Making sure that everything you share is relevant and important to your audience.
– Preparing and practicing every element of your presentation.
– Turning your presentation into a conversation and not a lecture.
– Having a backup plan if you lose your notes or the audio visual set up fails.
– Getting honest feedback from your audience during and after the presentation.
– Managing every aspect of the room, light, sound, temperature, comfort, etc.
Step 2. Be flexible
Imagine standing to speak with a belief that it is essential to:
– Present each slide in exactly the order you’ve prepared them.
– Have an agenda that is followed to the letter with absolutely no deviation.
– Allow your audience to only speak about or ask questions relating specifically to your content.
– Save questions to the end believing that if someone dares to ask a question during your ‘flow’, all will be lost.
Such unhealthy and limiting beliefs will of course serve neither you or your audience well. As challenging and arduous as it sounds, we have to prepare for everything and expect anything.
Adopting a mindset of flexibility is the key to success in giving a mindful presentation. Flexibility is achieved by crafting your presentation as a conversation rather than a lecture.
Step 3 – Accept reality
Your audience are highly complex, discerning and parochial in nature. They each have their own values, beliefs, needs and expectations. You can’t please everyone every time, no matter how hard you try. You are being judged whether you like it or not. You will be scrutinised, challenged and not everyone will like, agree with or accept your idea. To presume otherwise is delusional.
Accepting reality means mindfully considering, crafting and delivering a presentation focused entirely on your audience. It means remembering that we are all human, fallible and very different.
Not everyone will like or agree with you but it shouldn’t stop you putting them at the heart of everything you share.
Self-acceptance is a challenge for many of us but its critical for giving a mindful presentation.
I like Leon F. Seltzer’s, Ph.D. idea of self-acceptance. ‘When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more “esteem-able” parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses or limitations, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves.’
Step 4 – Tolerate frustration
Mindful presenters tolerate the frustration of putting up with the short-term discomfort of crafting a high impact, mindful presentation. They realise that they may need to experience some frustration before they can deliver a message which will help their audience.
Tolerating frustration means appreciating that:
– It will take time, focus and energy to understand your audience and hone your message.
– It is human nature to procrastinate and that no one is exempt.
– Building and delivering a meaningful presentation isn’t easy and takes a great deal of work.
– You will have doubts, fears and anxieties but that they will pass once you understand the value of what you are bringing to your audience.
Step 5 – Think it
My presence on this planet for over 5 decades has taught me that people who truly think, are generally more successful.
We all think we think, but do we really? When you pause to think about it you will realise that thinking is hard. Most of us are so busy ‘doing’ that we don’t create the space to think.
Creating a high impact, mindful presentation involves:
– Thinking about the problem, issue, opportunity or challenge with laser like clarity.
– Thinking about all possible ways of helping your audience no matter how ridiculous they may appear at first.
– Thinking about what a very specific, achievable and measurable outcome would be.
– Thinking about the upside and downside of every possible solution.
– Evaluating and exhausting the outcome of your solution from your audience’s perspective.
Life is one big, ongoing conversation. Communication is at the heart of everything we are and everything we do. We get to create and develop connections, influence decisions, and inspire change each time we speak. At mindful presenter we believe that every communication is a presentation. The ability to grow and succeed in every aspect of life depends on our ability to communicate effectively.
Life isn’t just a presentation, for us to have the impact we want it needs to be a mindful presentation.
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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