Presentation Skills & Public Speaking Training – Mindful Presenter https://mindfulpresenter.com Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:56:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 3 Public Speaking Tips to Catapult Your Business to Success https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-tips-success/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-tips-success/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:56:08 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6469 Being an entrepreneur doesn’t make you immune to public speaking anxiety but it’s worth overcoming ...

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Being an entrepreneur doesn’t make you immune to public speaking anxiety but it’s worth overcoming if you want to promote your expertise and grow your business. Finding and taking every opportunity you can to speak at events, conferences and even on the radio can give you a level of exposure that even Google would be envious of.

Speaking of Google, whilst you’re busy paying them to advertise for you, or someone else to raise your online search profile, public speaking offers an exciting, fun and worthwhile route to grow your business. There are a great number of ways to reduce the level of anxiety you may associate with public speaking to help you extend your reach and promote your business with impact.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Don’t speak from the heart

One of the most common reasons people don’t think they need public speaking training or coaching is because they think that all they have to do is ‘speak from the heart’ and all will be fine. On its own it’s not enough, it’s an attitude which can lead to failure and more importantly, it’s an approach which does your audience a huge disservice.

Your audience don’t want to see a slick, polished speaker on the platform, but equally they don’t want to see someone who hasn’t fully prepared for them. They may know you’re an expert but what they really care about is how your expertise can help them.

That means you have to do your homework and leave nothing to chance.

Find out as much as you possibly can about who they are, what they care about and the challenges they face that you can help them with. Don’t simply rely on their website, Linkedin or Google. Pick up the phone or send them an email; make it personal.

Once you’ve done everything you can to put yourself in their shoes then you can ‘speak from the heart’ with the specific aim of connecting with theirs.

2. Make them an offer they can’t refuse

The quote from the classical film ‘The Godfather’, ‘make him an offer he can’t refuse’, has become something of a legend. However, it doesn’t apply to Hollywood blockbusters alone; it’s the very essence of every great presentation or public speech. Just because you believe in, and are so passionate about what you have created, how will it help your audience?

Why should they listen?

Why should they care?

What’s in it for them?

Your job is to make them a promise that you can keep which they will find very hard to refuse.

3. Prepare with PURPOSE

The reason you do what you do and you care about what you do is because you started your business with a very clear purpose. When you are extolling the virtues of what you do with others you need to also have a purpose.

When it comes to presenting what you do publicly, it’s not enough to simply tell people. You also need to decide in advance what it is that you want them to do the moment you finish speaking and how you want them to feel. The fact is that unless you have made them feel something its highly unlikely that they will do what you want them to do.

The next time you craft a presentation be clear on your purpose.

What is your purpose?

Once you are clear on exactly what it is and how it will help your audience then make sure you craft and deliver your presentation with it.

Primacy effect

Research suggests that when you give people a lot of information it’s quite likely that they will remember something you said very early on. That alone promotes an opportunity to make sure that the first thing we say is something that will definitely capture our audience’s attention. Don’t spend the first five minutes telling them who you are and how pleased you are to be there. Say, show or do something that will immediately capture their interest and curiosity.

Focus on making them feel that they are glad they went to the trouble to come to listen to you and they can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Unusual

Most people don’t look forward to attending or sitting through presentations because they believe that they have ‘heard it all before’.

Our job as presenters and public speakers is to do whatever we can to ensure that our approach and presentation is different; it’s unusual. Don’t do what everyone else does, challenge the status quo, be creative and dare to be different.

Tell them short, relevant and powerful stories, use compelling visuals, ask thought provoking questions and make them smile too.

Repetition

As the late Zig Ziglar once said “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment”

Imagine this, you have finished giving your presentation and your audience can’t wait to tweet your key message to the rest of the world.

Whatever it is you would like them to tweet is your message and they won’t hear it until you’ve repeated it several times.

Make sure you repeat your key message and keep it short, simple but powerful.

At Mindful Presenter our message is: “When it comes to presenting, connecting is everything”.

Personal

Regardless of your status, role, experience or expertise the one thing we all have in common is that the only thing we really care about is ourselves. That means that when we are presenting to an audience we have to make sure that everything we say, show and do is personal to them. There can be no exceptions to that rule and if you choose to make one you can be absolutely certain that your audience will simply filter and completely disregard anything that isn’t personal to them.

The route to ensuring that your presentation is personal to your audience is imagining that they stop you after every sentence and ask, ‘so what, why should I care about tha?t’. If you don’t have an answer that’s personal to them they will soon tune out.

Open

Being professional doesn’t mean you have to speak as the ‘corporate spokesperson’ and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all of the time. Your audience want you to be ‘open’; that means open gestures, open vocally, and open emotionally.

Give them a glimpse of the real you, let them into your world by sharing something personal about yourself that they can relate to.

Stories

If all you want to share is facts, data and insights then do your audience a favour and just send them an email. If you truly want to connect with them and be remembered, then tell them a story.  Whatever you do though, make sure it is short, relevant and compelling.

Stories are how we learn and visualise information and if you view your entire presentation as a story board you are far more likely to engage your audience. A great story takes people on a journey they haven’t been on before but will remember for some time so breathe life into your information with stories.

Energy/Enthusiasm

I believe that energy and enthusiasm is the jewel in the crown of public speaking. Make absolutely certain that you craft and deliver your presentation with energy and enthusiasm otherwise I can promise you that they will forget most of what you said before they return to their car or desk.

You are the expert and your audience simply want to learn about how you can help them with your expertise.

There are no rules when it comes to presenting but there is one thing that you need to keep in mind that every wants from you. They want the information, data and knowledge crafted and delivered in a way that will not only understand but will make them feel something too.

“Connecting is everything.”

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

Image courtesy of: flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Powers of High Impact Presenting – Mindful Presenting https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/12-powers-high-impact-presenting/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/12-powers-high-impact-presenting/#respond Sun, 09 Jul 2017 09:45:55 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6453 High impact presenting isn’t something you see in most businesses every day. We do however ...

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High impact presenting isn’t something you see in most businesses every day. We do however have an opportunity to dramatically transform the way we speak and connect with each other in business in a far more powerful way.

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 presenting.

I’ve long believed that we live in a world in which the only sustainable route to personal and professional contentment and success is our voice. 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 and our ability to win people over to our way of thinking. Whether you are trying to gain support for an idea, diffuse an emotional charge, deal with opposition or even change the world in some way, you need to be able to communicate with clarity and impact.

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 long before we enter the workplace.

That said, given that most people associate the challenge with presenting their ideas at work here are 12 of the major powers available to each of us when presenting to ensure our success.

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 you to spend a great deal of time and conscious thought to your motivation for calling people together in the first place and their motivation for turning up.

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.”

Once we have absolute clarity on exactly what we want our audience to think, feel and do we need to very carefully consider their reality. In other words, how do they see things, do we share common ground on our perspectives, if not then why and what’s different?

How much do they know already?

Why should they care?

How will your message help them and what difference will it make?

Have they heard it all before and if so what’s so different and special about your way of thinking?

How do they literally think and feel about the topic and your message and how do you know?

What are they doing now that you want them to change, what’s stopping them and why would your words make any difference?

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 the arrogant presenter who expects them to hang on to and believe every word they say simply because they’ve said it.

They need to be certain that you understand their reality and have considered in great detail the potential flaws in your message and why elements may be considered weak or inappropriate. 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

One of the many reasons that most of us would rather do anything else but sit through another presentation at work is because we don’t have time for big egos. ‘Look at me, look how hard I work, how clever I am and how much I know.’

The fact is that no one really cares about you. 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 behave like a comedian by saving your punchline to the end. Let your audience know as quickly as you can why you’ve called them together, why they will be glad they came and 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

Smile

Capture their interest and curiosity immediately; you already have their attention.

6. Stop the noise

‘What if they don’t like me?

What if they know more than I do?

What happens if I forget what to say?

What if 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 and are just about to speak. Each time you have such a thought and ask yourself one of these debilitating questions you are doing your audience a disservice. In essence it means that your body is in the room but your mind isn’t. They came to listen to your mind not stare at your outfit.

We each have our own personal level of noise and our challenge is to stop that level of thought long before we stand to speak. 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, 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

Another of the presenter’s greatest gift is the use of the pause. 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 and 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 but it is a presenter’s ally. Those who have the mindfulness and courage to use it wisely are always received well by their audience. Inherent within its power is a signal to our audience that if it’s something that you are comfortable with then you must be comfortable with yourself.

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. Please don’t misunderstand my point here. 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 then 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 make any assumptions:

Don’t assume that just because you know what you are talking about that your audience will too.

Don’t assume that just because you believe in what you are saying that they should too.

Don’t assume that they are familiar with your choice and use of language, keep it simple.

In the process of delivering your presentation don’t make any assumptions:

Don’t assume that just because 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.

Don’t assume that they’ve understood you, check in with them.

Don’t assume that just because 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 give a presentation with varying levels of confidence and clarity. Far too many 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.

The power of presenting lies in not telling your audience anything, but showing them everything instead. In other words, bring your 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

Smiling

Moving meaningfully to own the platform

Telling stories

Being animated

Being facially expressive

Speaking with passion and conviction

11. Scan your body

For many people the very thought of having to stand and present their ideas to others can create a great deal of anxiety which can turn into tension in the body.

Whatever level of tension or anxiety you may feel when presenting 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 and sometimes we have to make ourselves feel it. Practicing the following exercise will help you learn to instantly 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.

Use your imagination to hold in mind what that emotion looks, sounds and feels like in your experience and be that number.

If you haven’t yet been called on to give a presentation at work then don’t worry your time will come. When it does happen then be sure to call on these 12 powers.  They will help you to connect with your audience in a way that you will both be extremely thankful for.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

Image courtesy of: flickr.com

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Presentation Skills – The only 5 things your audience want and need from you https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/presentation-skills-audience-need/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/presentation-skills-audience-need/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 14:52:59 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6443 Good presentation skills aren’t reserved exclusively as a competence for the annual performance review of ...

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Good presentation skills aren’t reserved exclusively as a competence for the annual performance review of the head of department or communication manager. It’s also not an activity isolated to the board or meeting room; it’s fundamental to the personal and professional success of each of us.

Whatever you do you can be certain that at some point during the day you are try to influence, engage, persuade or even inspire someone you work with. Let’s face it; it’s easy to simply share information, knowledge or ideas. The challenge for each of us is to do so in a way that connects emotionally as well as intellectually to the people listening to us.

‘Connecting is everything’

It seems to me that we live in a world of noise.

Mobile phones, email, junk mail, social media, the internet, television, radio (even in the car), customers, colleagues, children, companions and even the cat are all fighting for our attention.

Some people reach for their mobile phones before their eyes are even fully open when they wake up in the morning to make sure they didn’t miss anything whilst they slept. As our neurons get straight to work trying to take in even more data before our first coffee we turn on the TV to be greeted by Piers Morgan furiously tapping his pen as we filter his verbal barrage.

It’s all too much!

Of course, that’s just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as they say.

We mustn’t forget the tens of thousands of thoughts that are running through that 3lb of grey matter we call our brain each day. Some of which are very helpful, kind and empowering yet which have to compete for our attention with the negative and unhelpful ones.

We have projects, deadlines, targets and to-do lists which seem to have a life of their very own and then just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, guess what?

You are invited to attend a presentation at work of perhaps even give one yourself.

You’ve been there before.

The same people sitting in the same seats, thinking and saying the same things in the same way as you live in hope that the only respite may be the biscuits.

Sadly, it soon becomes clear that even the biscuits are the same!

The following advice has been crafted with the presenter in mind to ensure you know exactly what your audience wants and needs from you to ensure that they look forward to rather than dread your next presentation.

1. Curiosity liberated the cat, it didn’t kill it

The old proverb ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ was designed to warn us of the dangers of being too inquisitive. When it comes to presenting and connecting with our audience it’s one of our greatest gifts. It’s what our audience have the moment they sit down and it’s what we as presenters need before we begin to craft our presentation.

The vast majority of professionals in the workplace today would rather do anything else but sit through another presentation. With the assumption that it’s likely to be too long, too boring and too irrelevant it’s not something most of us tend to get excited about.

The first question dominating your audience’s subconscious mind is ‘Am I in the right room?’ It’s not a logistical question it’s one which relates to purpose, value and meaning. That’s why the very first thing we have to do as presenters is to capture our audience’s undivided interest and curiosity. You could argue that you already have their attention by virtue of the fact that they turned up in the first place.

If you’re curious about how to go about using curiosity watch the following short YouTube presentation by Phil Waknell; ‘How to make your audience curious?’

2. Make it personal

During our presentation training courses I often ask the question ‘What is the most popular radio station on the planet?’ After a few wild guesses are put forward I then admit that I don’t actually know myself but it’s my belief that it’s WIIFM.

What’s In It for Me?

That’s all our audience really care about. If they are investing 20 or 40 minutes of their life listening to you what’s in it for them and why should they care?

Once they know that they are in the right room all they want from you thereon in is a promise that everything you say, show and do will be completely relevant and personal to them. Remember, they already live in a world of noise and anything which isn’t personal to them in some way will simply be filtered as more noise.

Keeping your presentation personal is like many things in life, it’s simple but it’s not easy. It takes mindfulness and courage.

The starting point is learning as much as you possibly can about who your audience are, how much they know already and how you can help them. Once you are clear that you know what’s in it for them ask yourself the question ‘so what?’

In other words, for every slide you share and every statement you make imagine how you would answer if your audience stopped you in your tracks and asked, ‘So what, why should I care about that?’

3. Think like a ‘tweet’

At the heart of every great presentation is a simple, clear and compelling message. Without a clear and powerful message a presentation is arguably pointless. If it’s simply information which could easily be sent out in the form of an email it’s doing your audience a huge disservice calling them all together in the same room.

What’s so important that they had to drop everything to come and listen to you?

What difference will it make to their personal or professional lives?

What do you want them to remember and why?

If you want them to tweet your message to the rest of their department, the company or even the world when they leave your presentation what would the tweet say.

If you don’t know before you utter a word you can be certain they won’t by the time you’ve finished. A presentation without a clear, personal and powerful message is like a sandwich without any filling; its dry, boring and you are highly unlikely to want another.

Whilst they aren’t business presentations of course as I looked at my Twitter feed whilst writing this article the top 5 messages were:

‘Our Lloyds scholars programme offers unique financial and support packages for young people’ – LBG News

‘Today’s key question – how well do you separate the person from the performance?’ – Tony Richards

‘Facts in speeches must be correct. Mistakes will destroy your credibility’ – Andy O’Sullivan

‘It’s time to stop making excuses and start bringing in-person social skills to the digital world’ – Ted Rubin

‘ One reason diversity is a divider? We don’t see beyond the obvious. Asking deeper questions brings a more human experience’ – Shainul Kassam

4. Bring it too life

A presentation consisting simply of information, jargon and data is arguably just noise. I would go as far as to say that most of it is forgotten by the time your audience return to their desk or car. The memorable ones however are remembered because they are the same words brought to life giving the message and presentation real impact.

Your audience want:

Passion

Belief

Conviction

Examples

Stories/anecdotes

Vulnerability

Vocal variety

Movement

Humour

Authenticity

Honesty

5. What now?

Crafting and delivering a clear and powerful message which has captured the curiosity and interest of your audience whilst being totally relevant and even brought to life is still not enough.

What they need from you now is absolute clarity on what you want them to do next. They like, accept and buy into your message, you’ve engaged and connected with them and everything has gone extremely well from your perspective and theirs.

What do you want them to do now?

When they leave that room what do you want them to think, feel and most importantly do? You’ve just spent the last 20 minutes taking them on a journey of thoughts and feelings whilst delivering the facts, so what do you expect from them when it’s over? If you don’t know then they won’t either and if you do know but you don’t tell them you could argue that you simply wasted your time and theirs because if they do nothing what was the point.

Presenting doesn’t have to be daunting or complex for either us as presenters or our audience. If we keep in mind that they only really want 5 things from us:

  • Let them know that they are in the right room and will be glad they came as soon as they sit down.

 

  • Make sure that everything you say, show and do is personal and relevant to them.

 

  • Deliver a message which is clear and compelling making sure that its relevant and personal too.

 

  • Don’t just tell them what you have to say. Bring your words and message to life.

 

  • Don’t assume they know what you want them to do when they leave the room, make it crystal clear.

 

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

Image courtesy of: https://unsplash.com/@jasonrosewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Presentation Skills aren’t ‘soft’: 8 ways leaders can help their teams communicate more effectively. https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/presentation-skills-leadership/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/presentation-skills-leadership/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 17:25:00 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6425 Presentation skills are often referred to as a ‘soft skill’ in many organisations. At Mindful ...

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Presentation skills are often referred to as a ‘soft skill’ in many organisations.

At Mindful Presenter we believe that there is nothing ‘soft’ about the art of communication. We would go as far as to say that it is the most important skill in the world today.

Whether you choose to accept the highly respected work of either the late Psychologist Abraham Maslow, or the more recent thinking of Tony Robbins we know one thing for certain.

Human beings need to connect with one another.

Maslow calls it belonging/love whilst Tony Robbins refers to it as connection/love. At Mindful Presenter we believe that ‘connecting is everything’.

Whether you are an engineer, lawyer, teacher or tailor, the way we communicate with each other is extremely important.

Just because we can speak doesn’t necessarily make us good or effective at it. Anyone can share information but whether that content is clearly understood, felt and acted upon is an entirely different matter. A number of leaders operate in the belief that as there are no technical competencies attached to communication, it doesn’t affect the financial success of their business. To make matters worse there is a ubiquitous assumption that just because we can speak and got through the interview that we can all communicate effectively.

The inability of our teams to communicate with colleagues, clients and stakeholders in a way that truly connects with them can have an adverse impact on every part of the business.

What’s the problem?

Poor communication is a bit like high blood pressure. If you neglect it for too long the consequences can be disastrous.

At school we are taught to read, remember and repeat. Whilst we may learn a very wide range of other skills, generally, one of them isn’t effective communication.

Some of us move on to higher education and the growing pressure we felt during our first few years of education to pass exams increases exponentially. Very little, if any time at all, is invested on helping us at this vital stage to speaking with confidence, clarity and impact in a way that connects us with others.

The definition of success that is instilled in so many of us throughout our education is that the goal is to simply get your degree so that you can then go out and work hard. Immersing yourself in a good education and developing your knowledge, wisdom and critical thinking is of course a worthy goal.

On its own however, it’s not enough.

At Mindful Presenter we often work with teenagers in schools to help them to develop their public speaking skills. A group of teenagers I was working with recently had been labelled ‘gifted and talented’ by the teaching faculty. Having spent the whole day with them I left the school with the concern that for most of them communication wasn’t one of their talents or gifts. I had to remind myself that was exactly the reason the school had asked me to help them in the first place.  What concerned me more was the belief that there are countless young people all over the world who simply aren’t being offered this help.

The group I had worked with were highly intelligent, creative and talented young people. Despite their gifts and talents they were terrified of speaking and when they finally found the courage to do so had very little idea of what to say or how to say it. Just imagine how much more confident, empowered and influential they would be if they knew how to speak in a way that would connect them with others. This isn’t of course isolated to ‘gifted and talented’ teenagers or simply young people it is an epidemic in the workplace today.

We leave school, graduate from college or university and suddenly find ourselves in a world where the most important skill we need to survive let alone thrive is communication. Suddenly we are asked to present our work or ideas to colleagues or customers and the panic sets in. It’s no wonder that research suggests that 74% of people have some anxiety about public speaking.

What can we do as leaders?

The very first thing we need to do is to stop operating under the delusion and myth that communication is a ‘soft skill’ and therefore not as important as others. Here are 8 things every leader can do to help their teams communicate more effectively.

1. Create trust

Trust begins with honesty, openness and transparency. Invest as much time, energy and focus as you can encouraging your team to speak openly in the knowledge that you value and respect their voice and want to hear it. It means creating an environment where people can feel and be themselves and not have to edit everything they say just because you are the boss and you may not like or agree with them.

2. Start connecting

Every organisation has its own internal communication culture and jargon. What is frustrating is the ‘corporate speak’ that our teams hear every day that leaders think is healthy. How many times have you had to read the latest corporate communication several times before you could work out what on earth it was trying to say and why it was relevant to you.

Stop churning out emails, memos and updates in a language that very few people understand or speak themselves and only send it to those who it’s completely relevant to.  Make it personal, make it human, make it engaging and make it count.  Whether you are writing it or saying it make sure that it’s totally focused on connecting with the team.

3. Show vulnerability

If you want your team to present their ideas with passion, purpose and energy then lead the way and show them how to do it first. Show them how to be open and that it’s fine to feel vulnerable. Show them how to lighten up, relax and not take everything so seriously. Help them to be themselves rather than simply their job title. Avoid the ‘corporate speak’ by being yourself and show them that’s how you want them to be too.

4. ‘I don’t know’

One of the biggest challenges we help people with in our presentation training workshops today is helping professionals to find the courage to simply say ‘I don’t know’. It’s not really a communication or presentation skills issue, it’s a leadership one which impacts the way people think and speak. In many organisations today there appears to be a great deal of stigma attached to the reality that it’s impossible for us to know everything and therefore many feel that it’s unacceptable to tell someone you don’t know the answer to their question.

Make it acceptable and easy for people to be honest and tell you they don’t know and then help them to find the answer.

5. ‘The last mile’

You wouldn’t normally expect to read a word often associated with ‘death row’ used in an article about communication. Sadly, it’s a metaphor that describes what we see in companies every week.

Imagine this:

  • It’s the monthly management meeting.

 

  • Everyone arrives and sits in exactly the same seat they sit in every month.

 

  • The team takes it in turn to go around the room in the same turn that they do every month to share their update.

 

  • They each get up from their seat and take that long, slow and solemn walk to the front of the room to operate the laptop and speak to the screen.

 

  • They read out the same KPI’s that they do every month in the same voice.

 

  • After they’ve presented, the rest of the team have to watch the presenter survive a barrage of questions from the most senior person in the room.

 

  • A head of department is waiting outside the meeting room for their turn to enter to present. They now enter with the expression of an inmate slowly making their way to their own execution.

 

Do whatever it takes to make every meeting different, make them fun, make them engaging and most of all make them something that your team can look forward to rather than dread.

6. Keep it conversational

No one likes to be lectured to. As leaders we each have an opportunity to connect with our teams in a far more conversational manner. Have you ever attended a presentation or a meeting where the speaker was addressing a room full of people but somehow it felt like it was just the two of you having a conversation. Keep your message personal, focused and tailored to the people you are speaking with and whatever you do, please don’t lecture them.

7. Feelings matter

Whatever the topic of the presentation or conversation is be absolutely clear before you begin to speak how you want people to feel. That means how they feel the moment you begin to speak, the way they continue to feel all the time they are with you and how you want them to feel the moment they walk out of the door.

Remember, you can say anything you want to but most people will forget most of what you said by the time they return to their desk.

They won’t forget how you made them feel.

Please keep in mind that there is nothing ‘soft’ or easy about communicating, it’s one of the hardest things we have to do every day. Help your team to get good at it.

8. Leave nothing to chance

Once you’ve made that crucial decision to do whatever it takes to help your team to find, value and express their true voice in a way that helps them to really connect don’t leave anything to chance.

Send them on a world class public speaking or presentation skills training course to give them all of the tools they need to succeed.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

 

 Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

 

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3 Powerful Steps to Becoming a Better Presenter and Public Speaker https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/powerful-steps-better-public-speaker/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/powerful-steps-better-public-speaker/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 20:24:47 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6418 Do you sometimes wonder what it would take for you to become a more confident ...

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Do you sometimes wonder what it would take for you to become a more confident presenter and public speaker? At Mindful Presenter we believe that we all have everything we need to connect with confidence, clarity and purpose each time we speak. Whether you are presenting to your colleagues in a team meeting, your management team at your monthly update or speaking to clients, the one thing we need to connect with our audience is already within our gift.

It’s our mind

I believe  that it was the late George Bernard Shaw who once said that,  “Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

For me that statement represents a challenge for each of us to pause for a few moments to think about the way we think. It seems to me that what Mr Shaw may have been trying to say is that most of us think that we think, but do we really?

When you stop to really think about it, thinking is hard.

If most of us are honest with ourselves, we don’t even have to read the wealth of research that says for the most part we are all creatures of habit. We are so busy being busy that many of us operate on ‘auto-pilot’.

When it comes to us having to present to colleagues or clients or speak in public, many of us will approach the opportunity in exactly the same way as we always have with a much lower level of consciousness than our audience deserves. The net result of such an approach is mediocrity and sameness with many people wondering why they weren’t just sent an email instead.

The route to success is simple but not easy.

If you have the courage and presence of mind to take the journey you will find yourself connecting with and inspiring fellow human beings in a way you never imagined possible.

Step 1 – Give yourself a break

The number one challenge we have to help people with during our presentation training courses is what we call their own personal ‘head stuff’. It’s the voice of self-criticism that tells us that we are simply not good enough.

We criticize ourselves for way we stand, the way we sound, the way we use our hands and even the way we move. The problem is that for the most part it is self-indulgent criticism that is very rarely warranted or true.  I wish I knew the percentage of people we train and coach who insist they have a long list of bad habits when they speak when most of them simply aren’t visible.

The first step on the journey to high impact presenting and public speaking is to STOP criticising yourself.

Let’s be clear now, that doesn’t mean that you become blissfully unaware of your bad habits and challenges but it does mean that you give yourself a break and find out whether they are real or simply ‘head stuff’. If you find out that they are real it doesn’t make you a bad person or presenter, but it does give you the opportunity to explore alternative strategies.

Please give yourself a break and stop criticising yourself.

Step 2 – Stop with the bogeyman

When I was a small boy I remember my parent’s strategy to avoid me entering a certain room in the house was to tell me that ‘the bogeyman was in there’. On reflection, that wasn’t the kindest of things to say, although from their perspective it served its purpose.

Regardless of age, experience or status, it’s clear to us at Mindful Presenter that many professionals have created their own personal bogeyman to accompany them each time they speak. It takes the shape of another voice:

‘What if they don’t like me?’

 ‘What happens if I freeze?’

 ‘What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?’

Stop terrorizing yourself with such awful thoughts. How would you react if your best friend asked you those questions? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t hesitate in telling them where to go.

Instead of dwelling on such disempowering questions hold a mental image in your mind of something that you like which looks and feels good instead.

Step 3 – Identify your strengths

Instead of investing so much time, energy and focus worrying about all of the things that you don’t like about yourself as a presenter or public speaker, focus on what works.

Find someone you trust and respect to listen to you practice your presentation and ask them to focus exclusively on only the things they like about the way you speak. Give them permission to only share the attributes they like and make them promise to not simply make things up to simply satisfy your ego.

As they do so ask them to focus on how you make them feel as you speak and if it’s not exactly what you intended ask them what needs to change.

Once you know your strengths invest more of your time in harnessing and exploiting them to work for you rather than focusing on your weaknesses.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

 Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Public Speaking: What is Mindful Presenting and why does it matter? https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-mindful-presenting/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-mindful-presenting/#respond Sun, 11 Jun 2017 19:42:02 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6396 It’s Friday morning and it’s been a very long week, but there’s light at the ...

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It’s Friday morning and it’s been a very long week, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That light is the simple but joyous thought that in a few hours you’ll be driving home away from the noise, the pressure, the stress and the sameness.

Moments into a very lucid image of enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine or simply flopping exhausted onto your sofa you are interrupted by another all too familiar noise; your bosses voice. She graciously acknowledges how busy you are, together with her appreciation of how short notice it is and how the last thing she wants to do is to interfere with your hard earned weekend. The humility stops right there with a request for you to make an important presentation to the management team on her behalf on Monday morning because ‘something’s come up’.

Before that moment you lived in the belief that mindfulness was something reserved for the lucky few who had the time to sit quietly on their own meditating. Now you realise that you can be far more mindful than you ever gave yourself the credit for, although it’s a painful awareness. In that moment and for the rest of the day you become aware of what you are thinking and what you are feeling.

Thoughts

  • How on earth am I going to be ready for this in time?

 

  • Why me anyway?

 

  • Doesn’t she know how busy I am?

 

  • I’m an awful presenter

 

  • I don’t have time and there is no way I can pull this off

 

  • This is going to be a disaster

 

  • It’s the management team for goodness sake

 

  • What if they don’t like what I have to say or how I say it?

 

  • What if I forget what to say?

 

  • What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?

 

  • What if they all know more than me?

 

Feelings

  • I’m angry that my boss doesn’t recognise how busy I am.

 

  • I’m worried because I just don’t have time for this

 

  • I’m fed up because it’s just ruined my weekend

 

  • I’m scared because I don’t like presenting anyway

 

  • I’m nervous because I’m not even a good presenter

 

  • I’m anxious because I just know it’s going to go horribly wrong.

 

  • I feel so sick…

 

Is that mindfulness?

It is if you define it as, ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’. If you are consciously aware of many of those thoughts and feelings then many would of course argue that you are of course being mindful.

On the other hand if you subscribe to the more popular school of thought that mindfulness means, ‘Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’, it’s probably the non-judgmental part that lets you down.

I’m a huge champion of the latter definition but I’m also grounded in realism. That means that I aspire to ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’ but I recognise the gargantuan human challenge to do so. For me, mindfulness represents the inherent human challenge and value of non-judgmental presence but its baseline is simple consciousness and awareness.

Simple in intellectual terms but not necessarily so easy in practice.

There is a wealth of research that tells us what most of us already know intuitively which is that we each have a vast number of thoughts, many of which are very similar to each other and a great number of which are negative.

That’s why I believe that just the very act of becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings in any given moment can pay enormous dividends. The alternative is of course living a life on what I call ‘auto-pilot’ where we essentially end up coasting through life.

It seems to me that mindfulness is the key to a taking ourselves off of ‘auto-pilot’ and living a life which offers more value and meaning. When it comes to presenting our ideas to others I’m sure you would agree that the one thing our audience want from us more than anything else is value and meaning. They want the facts, data, knowledge, information and insights but they want it wrapped up in a way that has personal relevance and purpose to them. A way that will make a tangible difference to their personal or professional lives that offers value and meaning.

Everything else is just noise and as we live in a world of ‘noise’, most of it is filtered out as we look for the ‘gold’. In the context of high impact presenting and public speaking the ‘gold’ represents the intensive filtration of the ‘noise’ to find the one thing that our audience is looking for that will help them in some way.

Mindful presenting is that filter – It’s the cleansing of the noise.

  • The noise in our minds

 

  • The noise our audience hears, sees and feels

 

The noise in our minds

It’s not new; it’s a very familiar voice:

 

–           I’m an awful presenter

 

–           This is going to be a disaster

 

–           What if they don’t like what I have to say or how I say it?

 

–           What if I forget what to say?

 

–           What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?

 

–           What if they all know more than me?

 

The noise our audience hears, sees and feels

If we listen to, entertain and accept the noise that we hear then here is the noise our audience experiences:

  • What on earth has this got to do with me?

 

  • Why do they keep saying the same thing over and over again?

 

  • Is this about them or me?

 

  • So what, why should I care?

 

  • Couldn’t they have just sent me this in an email?

 

  • Am I even in the right room?

 

  • I really don’t have time for this.

 

Mindful presenting is the solution

It’s about having the consciousness to answer all of these questions with absolute clarity before you sit down to craft your presentation.

It’s about acknowledging and accepting that if you don’t have that clarity and purpose then as far as your audience is concerned it’s just more noise.

It’s about realising that in the absence of clear and powerful answers to the questions you don’t really have a presentation to make. 

It’s about knowing that your presentation is nothing to do with you and everything to do with your audience. What do you want them to think, do and feel?

It’s about taking the time out to slow down, calm down and think about who your audience really are and how you can help them.

It’s about recognising that your audience don’t want to see and hear a slick, well-polished and rehearsed speaker. They want to hear someone speak who is knowledgeable enough to help them but really cares about their personal needs.

It’s about delivering your message with absolute clarity in a way that is compelling, meaningful and valuable.

It’s about connecting with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually.

Is mindfulness easy?

My belief is that it isn’t and that it’s our ultimate personal challenge. After all, the past is gone and the future hasn’t yet arrived so what else is there?

There is the opportunity to be conscious, to be aware, to be wide awake and present in every moment. In terms of how achievable it is, it’s something that most of us are oblivious too because we are simply so busy being busy. That said; it is very achievable.

When it comes to presenting if we want to be heard, understood, remembered and have our ideas acted upon we really have no other choice.

Mindful presenting is the future of high impact presenting.

Connecting is everything!

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.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

 

 

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Public Speaking : 5 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You a Better Public Speaker https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-mindfulness/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-mindfulness/#respond Fri, 02 Jun 2017 18:32:21 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6375 Public speaking and presenting is often perceived as a skill that only extroverts can excel ...

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Public speaking and presenting is often perceived as a skill that only extroverts can excel at because you need to be loud, elaborate and super bold. Mindfulness on the other hand is commonly associated with being far more reserved, contemplative and even a little meek.

Both perspectives of course are misplaced, which means that regardless of your personality mindfulness can be extremely valuable in helping you to become a better public speaker. In fact, at Mindful Presenter we believe that the key to high impact presenting and public speaking starts with awareness, clarity and focus.

If you have to present regularly at work you’ve probably noticed that it often arrives on your to do list as an interruption and inconvenience rather than something you look forward to. Once you’ve resigned yourself to the harsh reality that it’s simply part of the job it’s often something put to the bottom of the list. When it raises itself back up to the top of the list again we often then become experts at procrastination.

The moment arrives when you can’t put it off any longer and you just have to spring into action.

  • The laptop comes out.

 

  • The templates leap out.

 

  • The mind switches over to auto-pilot and the damage is already done.

 

Or is it?

It’s only the beginning.

In terms of content alone some people then go on to craft a presentation which looks and sounds almost identical to previous ones they’ve written. Many are then delivered in exactly the same way too; regardless of the message or the audience.

Highly intelligent, creative, talented and responsible professionals all over the world are presenting the same things in the same way to the same people every week.

It’s mindless.

Mindfulness is changing the world of public speaking and presenting in a way that is illuminating and refreshing because it compels and equips us as speakers to connect emotionally as well as intellectually.

Here’s how:

1. You get to meet you

Many of us are so busy being busy that we rarely take the time to really think about how we are thinking and how we are feeling. Imagine how much more powerful your presentation would be if you connected fully with yourself first before attempting to do so with a disparate audience. Trying to influence the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of others without awareness of our own as presenters is akin to swimming in quicksand.

Long before they even open their laptop the Mindful presenter invests the time, energy and effort to focus on themselves at the exclusion of all other distractions.

How do I feel?

How do I sound?

How do I look?

What are my natural gifts as a speaker, what works for me?

Am I present with my audience in the room in the moment or am I there in body but not in mind and spirit?

Why am I here anyway?

How are my thoughts helping or hindering me and what impact would they have on my audience as a consequence?

Am I doing this for me or them?

Am I excited or nervous; what’s the difference?

Do I do anything repeatedly to the point of distraction when I’m presenting and how do I know?

2. You get to know your audience before you meet them

When we learn to become more aware of and less dismissive of ourselves we stand a far greater chance of connecting emotionally with our audience.  Whilst it may sound selfish we owe it to our audience to connect with ourselves first. The process of healthy and balanced introspection has to be our first priority. That doesn’t of course mean that we scrutinise ourselves to the point of destruction, it means creating a thoughtful awareness that inspires personal growth and development. Once we begin tuning into and understanding ourselves a little more we can then do the same with our audience.

Who are they really?

How much do I know about them?

How much do I care about them?

How can I help them?

What difference can I make to their professional or personal lives?

What do they want and need the most from me?

These are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, husbands, wives and partners how do I connect with them as such as well as professionals.

Do they really just want information from me or do they want to feel something?

What do they want to feel?

How can I help them feel it?

3. You get to make wise choices

When we wake up at the same time each morning,  eat the same breakfast each day, wear the same clothes ,take the same route to work to sit at the same desk in front of the same computer to largely say the same things to the same people each day life can become a little too routine. When life is too unremarkable  we often make choices and decisions less consciously as we work hard to maintain the status quo.

When it comes to presenting and public speaking such repetitive behaviour isn’t at all helpful for our audience. When we practice mindfulness we become far more aware, open to insights and can access our own creativity and wisdom far more easily and effectively.

Our audience’s become extremely thankful for the wise choices and decisions we find ourselves making.

Do I really need PowerPoint or any visual aids?

Is this slide, fact, statement, quote or number completely relevant to my audience?

What is my message and if I were to ask them to tweet it to the rest of the world after my presentation what would they say?

Do I really need 40 minutes of their time or could I connect far more effectively in 20 minutes?

Would they be far better served by me them simply sending them a self – explanatory email asking them to call me if they have any questions when they’ve read it?

Have I invested enough time and energy preparing and practicing my presentation  and if I haven’t should I postpone my presentation until I have in fairness to my audience.

4. You get to connect

We live in a world full of noise, knowledge, information and distractions.  Whilst knowledge and information will always be at the top of most people’s search lists the last thing anyone needs more of is noise and distractions.

With over 7 billion people on the planet rapidly becoming more and more disconnected with each other that’s the one thing many of us are crying out for; connection.

We want to be heard, we want to be understood, we want to have our voice and have our say. What we want and need more than anything else is to feel connected to each other. Despite what many of us have been led to believe, presenting and public speaking creates an incredible opportunity for each of us to make and feel that connection.

To achieve that bond we can no longer rely on the way we have been presenting to each other at work for decades.  We need the facts, the information and the data but on its own it’s not enough.  At mindful presenter we would argue that presenting in this way at the exclusion of all else supresses emotional connection and serves to alienate us from each other even further.

Fact and data on their own don’t stimulate connecting they need to be brought to life through:

Stories and anecdotes

Metaphors and similes

Humour

Contrast

Thought provoking questions

Drama

Surprise

Passion and purpose

5. You get to stop lying to yourself

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”  Mark Twain

Everyone feels some level of anxiety when presenting and speaking in public and a great many feel extremely nervous; even to the point of experiencing panic attacks.

Whether you are truthful and acknowledge and express your discomfort with public speaking or you are in the second group that Mr Twain so eloquently refers to, mindfulness may offer you the solution you have long been searching for.

The human mind is conditioned to wander at least 50% of the time, a vast number or our thoughts are repetitive and for many of us far too many of them are unhelpful.  When it comes to presenting and public speaking anyone who has experienced that paralysing feeling of anxiety will tell you they simply can’t stop those repetitive destructive thoughts.

This extremely simple 3 step solution can change everything.

Step 1– Sit down with your spine straight and supported but in a way that you are comfortable.

Step 2– Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Notice how it feels each time you breathe in and each time you breathe out.

Step 3 – When your mind wanders, and you can be certain that it will, bring your focus back to your breath and just notice how it feels again. You don’t need to challenge or judge your thoughts just notice and feel each breath. Each time your mind wanders return it to your breath; don’t worry about how many times you have to do so.

If nervousness is something which you find particularly challenging when presenting you may find the following video very helpful as Mel Robbins shares her way of handling anxiety and panic.

https://mel-robbins.mykajabi.com/p/31-sessions-anxiety-and-panic

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.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

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First Leaders’ Debate – A public Speaking Perspective https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/leaders-debate-public-speaking/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/leaders-debate-public-speaking/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 16:01:21 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6352 The first leaders’ debate of the 2017 General Election took place last night despite the ...

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The ITV Leaders Debate Manchester UK 18 May 2017

The first leaders’ debate of the 2017 General Election took place last night despite the absence of two key leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May.

The question is, was it worth two hours of prime time television after a hard day at work?

From a public speaking perspective some would argue that it was entertaining.

We saw Caroline Lucas make a point of showing the nation her pen each time it was her turn to speak. Paul Nuttall spiced things up by calling Leanne Wood Natalie as he appeared to impersonate Nigel Farage. Nicola Sturgeon taught us how to lean on a lectern and smirk. Leanne Wood shared her personal attachment to her notes when she let go of the lectern in the knowledge that it wouldn’t run away. If that wasn’t riveting enough, we of course had Tim Farron share his autobiography.

Who said politics has to be boring?

I’m joking of course; it was far more polished than that with each leader giving what many would regard as a fair and reasonable public speech. Political views completely aside, here is our take on who is likely to have connected with viewers purely through their oratory skills.

We used a good old fashioned scoring system of marks out of 10. We rated each leader on the effort and level of mindfulness we felt each of them made to connect with their audience.  Taking into account all of the key elements that we believe are required to speak with presence, clarity and impact to ensure that crucial connection our scoreboard looked like this.

Tim Farron – Liberal Democrats  6/10

Nicola Sturgeon – SNP   5/10

Caroline Lucas – Green Party  5/10

Paul Nuttall – UKIP  4/10

Leanne Wood – Plaid Cymru  3/10

Tim FarronLiberal Democrats  6/10

When it comes to public speaking what you choose to wear can have a big impact on the first impression you make.

In Tim’s case he arrived in a blue suit with a blue tie which in branding terms I believe is often associated with trust, loyalty and integrity.

The question is; in terms of his oratory did we get what we saw or at least thought we saw?

For me he was by far the most impassioned speaker on the panel last night.

His passion and conviction was highly evident in the way he spoke with such energy, enthusiasm and belief. His facial expressions, hand gestures, eye contact and vocal emphasis were entirely consistent with what he was saying.

He didn’t hold on to the lectern, he didn’t have to rely on his notes; he had a sense of humour and the mindfulness to relate personally to his audience. I joked earlier about him sharing his autobiography but when you want to connect with and inspire people you need to be able to open up a little.

It’s seems to me that is exactly what he tried to do by talking in the form of stories, anecdotes and examples that many people could connect with. I read in the press this morning that some people felt he was a little over zealous in his efforts to make that personal connection and that he had been coached to do so.

That may well be so but the point is that it was highly evident that he had thought very carefully about how he wanted to connect with and relate to his audience

Nicola Sturgeon  – SNP  5/10

Mindful presenters know how to dress to connect with their audience and Nicola Sturgeon had clearly given that a great deal of thought. She took to the podium in a striking red outfit which in branding terms is often associated with power, strength and excitement.

These of course are highly attractive attributes in any leadership role but once again the question is, did her public speaking performance live up to those expectations.

Her approach and demeanour during last night’s debate was undoubtedly one of professionalism. She looked and sounded like the consummate executive presenting in the board room. To achieve that level of excellence she had to tick a large number or public speaking boxes which she did.

She was very focused, calm, confident and composed.

She was articulate, had a great pace and spoke with authority.

She didn’t rely on her notes and spoke with good measure.

What more could you want from a public speech?

As strange as it may sound to some it felt almost too slick and polished to me.

Her oratory as text book solid as it was lacked passion and in my view was one of the least expressive in many ways. In terms of the connectivity that I refer to I believe that her board room ‘matter of fact’ style of presenting looked and felt a little too smug and dare I say laid back to connect with a nation.

She leaned on the lectern when she was listening to her opponents speak almost as though some of us would perhaps lean on a bar. It even seemed to me that she indulged in her lean once or twice whilst speaking herself, which isn’t a good look for a public speaker.

Caroline Lucas –  Green Party 5/10

I’ve commented on the appearance of others so it’s only fair that I continue to do so. Many people associate the colour brown with a vision of stability and reliability which of course are also admirable qualities. On the other hand, some may perceive the colour and even the principles of stability and reliability a little boring.

Caroline’s oratory was certainly not boring by any means.

She grabbed our attention immediately with her fervour, energy and flair. She was highly expressive, animated in her narrative and spoke with immense belief that she managed to sustain throughout the debate.

As a public speaker she is clearly a force to be reckoned with and someone to watch out for in the future.

I liked, enjoyed and admired her style of public speaking and her efforts to connect with her audience. The only thing that really distracted me which I joked about earlier was her clutching and waving of her pen.

You probably didn’t notice it but it’s all I could eventually focus on.

Paul Nuttall –  UKIP 4/10

Paul also looked very dapper as though he were heading straight for the board room.  His dark suit and striped tie suggested to me that he was going to be assertive, state his case and get straight to the point.

Interestingly, he started off by stroking his own hands for a moment which is often associated with nervousness or a signal that he was ready and fired up to get straight into the debate. I believe it was the latter, he certainly didn’t look at all nervous to me.

He spoke with a level of gravitas that allowed him to make big bold gestures and appear very spirited. There was plenty of emphasis on key words such as ‘bold’ and ‘no’.

As a speaker his tone and demeanour felt far more assertive than engaging or an attempt to connect with his audience. He had a message to deliver and it seemed to me that he was intent on delivering it at the expense of everything else.

The consequence of that was that he made the forgivable mistake of getting his opponents name wrong once but the unforgivable act of doing it again.

Unfortunately, that’s probably all that a great number of people will remember about his public speaking performance last night.

Paul is clearly a very strong and able public speaker although every time he spoke I felt as though I was listening to Nigel Farage.  He had the same tone, pace, pitch, emphasis and even mannerisms that for me he felt like a clone of Nigel Farage. I’ve already expressed a view that Tim Farron sounded a little like Nick Clegg but this was different. In fact, there was a point that I wondered why Mr Farage wasn’t speaking himself.

Leanne Wood – Plaid Cymru 3/10

Appearing in pink Leanne looked friendly warm and approachable to the point that we could relax because we knew we were going to be in safe hands.

When it comes to public speaking the way you open your speech or presentation is extremely important; it comes back to my point regarding first impressions.  In Leanne’s case she started by relying very heavily on her notes unlike her opponents. She also quickly launched into an attack on Theresa May. Whilst many would argue that was completely warranted a really good public speaker knows there are other far better ways of getting an audience’s attention.

After her initial hesitant start she very quickly became quite relaxed and amiable almost as though she were speaking with friends at home. Whilst that is also an attractive and endearing public speaking quality, in this case it made her performance feel quite lacklustre.

She lacked energy and passion, held on to the lectern too much and the only time I felt that she became really animated was when she was challenging Paul.

Our views in this article are shared without political content or bias and are based solely on our personal and professional perspective on each of the leaders’ public speaking skills during last night’s debate.

These views were also shared in a short interview with Paul Ross at Talk Radio which you can listen to here:

                       
                        Check this out on Chirbit

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.

Image courtesy of : Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills – 3 Powerful Tips https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-skills-3-powerful-tips/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/public-speaking-skills-3-powerful-tips/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 20:28:43 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6337 Public speaking skills aren’t necessarily on the top of most people’s personal and professional development ...

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Public speaking skills aren’t necessarily on the top of most people’s personal and professional development list. In fact, many people will tell you quite plainly that they would rather learn to become a lion tamer than to speak in public. For some people the very thought of standing to present their ideas and have an audience’s full attention for a few minutes can fill them with dread.

As we all know only too well, we don’t even have to do the thing we fear most to feel the anxiety. Unfortunately it’s readily available to us all through the simple avenue of thought. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that public speaking has always been one of the top sources of anxiety across the world.

After all:

Most of us weren’t taught the skill at school, college or university.

Most of us aren’t event taught the skill at work; we are just expected to be good at it.

Many of us were told that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ when we were growing up.

Nobody relishes the idea of being judged and, let’s face it, when you are presenting your audience are judging you whether you like it or not.

We still remember the first time we raised our hand to answer a question at school only to get it wrong. That feeling of shame and embarrassment has longevity of its own.

So why should I overcome my fear and develop my public speaking skills?

Aside from the fact that you have a job and are highly likely to be called upon to present your thoughts and ideas, at some stage there are some other good reasons:

  • Once you’ve learned to manage the anxiety it does wonders for your personal confidence and self-esteem.

 

  • It gives you the opportunity and platform to be heard and make a difference.

 

  • It can make an enormous difference to your career and how quickly you progress.

 

  • Your voice and your ability to express yourself effectively can affect every area of your life, not just your career.

 

So how do you do it?

1. Look for purpose rather than personal pain

Rather than investing so much time and effort focusing on all the bad stuff switch your attention to why you are speaking in the first place.

Find the purpose in your message and devote all of your energy to the difference you can make to your audience. If you can’t make a difference then you are right to feel anxious and would serve them better by simply sending them an email instead.

Many business presentations are designed simply to impart knowledge or information which of course is quite normal. The problem is that most people can read and sadly many presentations are read to the audience. They could just have easily read the presentation for themselves at the comfort of their own desks.

At Mindful Presenter we believe your purpose revolves around finding and committing yourself to an ‘M point’. Your ‘M point’ is your moment of truth; in other words what is it you want your audience to think, feel and do when you finish speaking.

If you don’t have a purpose that is much greater than simply ‘informing’ them you will undoubtedly feel pain and they will feel it a great deal more.

Find your M point and focus on it at the exclusion of all other distractions.

2. Get some stabilisers

Remember when you were a small child and you first learned to ride a bike? You didn’t just leap onto the bike and speed off into the sunset. You needed a couple of coaches. Your first coach was probably that extra pair of wheels in the form of stabilisers, but your greatest coach was the person who picked you up each time you fell off the bicycle. They dusted you down, gave you some pointers, set you on your way again and each time you fell they repeated the cycle. They encouraged and supported you, told you where you were going wrong and gave you that crucial guidance which steered you in the right direction.

Each time you thought you wouldn’t make it they reassured you that you would. When you couldn’t work out why something was going wrong they explained why. When you needed them to just hold onto you for a while they were always there.

When you first learned to read you had a coach.

When you learned drive you had a coach.

When you think back, everything you learned how to do someone taught you how to do it.

I don’t remember that working with my first kiss though; that was a challenge.

3. Don’t be a sheep

We all know that sheep have what appears as an instinct to follow the other sheep in front of them. Unfortunately it seems as though many professionals have developed a similar sheep instinct in following the people they have seen present before them.

Thirty years ago that may have worked but today it’s a recipe for mediocrity and potential disaster. Not only do many people dread the thought of giving presentations, a great number of us are just as unexcited about attending them. So many business presentations are the same today that we really don’t look forward to turning up.

The reason for it is that sadly even human beings as an incredibly gifted and talented species have a tendency to adopt the sheep mentality. We’ve seen our boss present and believe that it must have worked for them to get them to where they are so we follow in their footsteps.

It no longer works.

Today we have to dare to be different, challenge the status quo and stand out from the crowd.

The best way that we know of today is to:

Craft mindfully

Prepare thoroughly

Practice thoroughly

Have a clear objective

Have a clear intention – how you want them to feel

Open with impact

Tell them stories

Get to the point quickly

Lighten up

Use contrast

Build drama

Build slides that look like bill boards

Stay on message

Make it about your audience, not yourself.

Make them feel something

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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.

 

 Image: Courtesy of flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Millennials aren’t the problem – It’s a leadership issue https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/millennials-leadership-issue/ https://mindfulpresenter.com/mindful-blog/millennials-leadership-issue/#respond Sat, 06 May 2017 11:13:49 +0000 https://mindfulpresenter.com/?p=6267 Millennials, centennials, generation Z. Call them what you will but let’s all be clear on ...

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Millennials, centennials, generation Z. Call them what you will but let’s all be clear on one thing, they are the future. If you were born any time in the last 30 years or are being born as I write this blog, it is you who will be shaping the world for further generations whatever we choose to call them.

The future belongs to our millennials and the next generation and the one thing they need more than anything else is strong, empowering and inspirational leadership.

Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing the brilliant Simon Sinek in conversation with Reggie Yates at Union Chapel in London speaking about millennials in the workplace. Essentially this was a continuation of an interview with Tom Bilyeu​ on Inside Quest at the end of last year.

Shortly after that original interview I wrote an article called ‘Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace: Truth, history or opportunity?’ I wrote the blog because as much as I admire Simon Sinek’s excellence as a speaker and author whilst I completely understood his perspective, it wasn’t one I could easily share. In short, it seemed to me that he was blaming parenting, impatience, technology and the environment for so many millennials allegedly feeling unfulfilled in the workplace.

My point was that the level of dissatisfaction and unrest he described isn’t exclusive to millennials. Whilst the addictive and all pervasive impact of technology in the form of mobile phones and social media is an issue, it’s a global one affecting all of us. We have 50 and 60 year old friends and family who come to visit and can’t leave their phones alone for 5 minutes.

For me, all of the elements of the changing world we live in play their own part in the way each new generation thinks, feels and behaves. What I took from last night’s conversation which I didn’t quite take from the previous interview to the extent that I would have liked to, is something much bigger

In fairness to Simon, he did cover it but I missed it through the smokescreen of the issues that I had focused on.

 It’s about leadership

What I previously heard through my own personal filters when listening to Simon Sinek talk a few months ago was essentially a barrage of blame. In other words, I heard him say that the reason millennials were often so unhappy was because of their parents, technology, impatience and their environment.

As a parent of a millennial I didn’t share that viewpoint. As someone who is definitely not a millennial who has felt the grip of social media I couldn’t isolate the issue to millennials. As someone who has spent a lifetime being impatient which for the most part has served me well I also struggled to relate to the harm it was causing others. As for the environment, that’s where leadership is a big issue.

In my previous article I quoted something that Simon said in his previous interview that very strongly resonated with me:

“We’re taking this amazing group of young fantastic kids who would have just been dealt a bad hand it’s no fault of their own and we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the long term life of this young human being we care more about the year than the lifetime right and so we are putting them in corporate environments that aren’t helping them build their confidence that aren’t helping them learn the skills of cooperation.”

That’s a leadership problem and in my role as a presentation skills and public speaking coach I see very clear evidence of it every week in the work we do at Mindful Presenter.

Mindful Presenter was born through a combination of feeling immense frustration, curiosity and passion about the way professionals in business presented to each other. Initially, I thought that I felt the way I did largely because most of us have never been taught how to present our ideas confidently, clearly and effectively. I soon realised that the problem had much deeper roots and when I dug deep enough to see them I saw what it often comes down to – leadership.

Frustration

Having spent years in the board room and senior management positions I could never quite understand why so many highly intelligent, creative, talented and responsible professionals were numbing their audiences into submission when presenting. Reading slides that were just smothered with text, bullet points, charts and graphs in a monotone voice with no eye contact and no energy was just the start. Incredibly gifted and very senior people were teaching everyone ‘underneath’ them how to present to put people to sleep.

From a leadership perspective it’s the way they had seen their boss before them present and it must have been good enough because they were the boss, so they did exactly the same. It’s been going on for generations and it’s still happening today in some of the biggest and most successful brands in the world.

Leaders everywhere are teaching others how to completely disengage with fellow human beings each time they speak. One of the reasons that I’m such an ardent champion of millennials is because at Mindful Presenter we work with them every day and one thing is crystal clear, they get it.

They understand completely and have seen and endured the pain of information being dumped on them through the noise of complex, boring and often pointless presentations. When we show them another way their eyes light up like children on Christmas morning.

When we teach them how to present and communicate in a way that is memorable, compelling and connects them emotionally as well as intellectually with their audience they can’t wait to leave the training room to get started.

Yes but…

Despite their complete agreement, understanding and zest in believing that mindful presenting will change the world of business presenting for the better we often hear:

‘Our leaders don’t present like that, they do the exact opposite’

‘I would love to present that way but my boss would hate it, that’s not how she works’

‘In our business they don’t care about connection, it’s all about information’

‘If only I had the courage to challenge the status quo’

‘Can’t you get our leadership team on this workshop they need to experience it for themselves?’

Sadly, the end result is these gifted millennials return to the work place to present in the same way their leaders do because the leadership culture stifles their enthusiasm to do things differently.

Just imagine the power our millennials hold in their hands to remove the pain and frustration of the mindless presentations in the workplace that we’ve suffered for decades. For them to exert their power it’s those leading them that have to show them how to use it and then help and support them to do so.

Curiosity

Having felt that frustration for over 25 years I often wondered whether there was another way.

A way in which you could still be professional but enjoy presenting and help your audience enjoy the presentation too.

A way in which you could still share information and knowledge but in a manner that connected with people emotionally so that they actually felt something.

A way to inspire action and influence change each time we present our ideas.

A way to tell stories to use anecdotes, metaphors and powerful examples to connect us with our audience.

A way to feel confident, calm, clear and focused while presenting.

A way to be truly present and be in the room with an audience rather than worrying incessantly about whether they will like me or agree with me.

We found the way, it’s called mindful presenting and millennials everywhere share our curiosity to explore its impact and possibilities.

The question is will their leaders take the handcuffs off and let them find, value and express their real voice.

Just imagine how we could transform the way we speak to each other in business if we inspired and encouraged our millennials to present in business in a way that we know is inherently right. All it takes is the courage and mindfulness of leadership to show them the way.

Passion

Simon Sinek expressed his view last night that he felt that passion isn’t something that any of us just have; it’s more of a result when the truth speaks to us.  It’s something you feel when you respond to the call that tells you that you just have to do what you do. It’s the why you do what you do.

When he asked Reggie Yates what his ‘why’ was Reggie responded by saying ‘to be the example that I never had’.

That’s a powerful driver to do something, the end result of which is to do it as best as you possibly can and the feeling you get from that is passion.

If we relate that to presenting in the work place, at Mindful Presenter we believe that one of the reasons so many presenters don’t speak with real passion is because they don’t have a clear why. That passion is fueled by having a clear and powerful message that you can share with conviction in the absolute knowledge that it will make a difference to your audience. That clarity and belief becomes the vehicle for the delivery of a high impact presentation which inspires change because your audience feels and shares the passion you feel.

Once again, the problem isn’t parenting, technology or impatience, its leadership by example.

One day someone will be writing an article about the next generation. We have the opportunity right now to influence its content by leading our millennials to a place where the people who work for them will feel far more fulfilled, stimulated, engaged and connected.

The future not only belongs to our millennials and the next generation, they will be leading it too and the one thing they need right now is strong, empowering and inspirational leadership.

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

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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