The A to Z of Mindful Presenting: F – Focus

Magnifying glass on word focus

Is presenting easy?

The prerequisite to ensuring you craft and deliver a memorable presentation to any audience is focus. At Mindful Presenter we believe that there is only one thing you need to focus on; how you want your audience to feel.

We’ve been presenting to each other in one form or another since the beginning of time and most people think it’s an extremely complex thing to excel at.

It isn’t.

The key to success is the image you focus on in your mind. The clearer the image as to how we want our audience to feel when we’ve finished speaking, the less fear, doubt and confusion there is.

Think about how many things are fighting for your attention right now; your mobile phone, your family, your team, your boss, your customers, email, twitter…

I don’t know about you but my ‘to do list’ is growing at such an alarming rate that it often worries me how on earth I can possible do it all. Then, just when we think it couldn’t possibly get any worse we are called upon to build and deliver a really important presentation. We have so much to do that the very idea of even finding the time to sit down to craft a business presentation can feel quite soul destroying.

Where do I start?

The first place most professionals head to is their laptop. Resist this urge.

Try this instead.

Find yourself some time and space to think, breathe and ponder.

Ask yourself a few challenging questions:

Why do I need to speak?

What’s so important?

What difference can I make?

What is my message?

Why should they care?

Given the premise that the human mind is conditioned to wander around 50% of the time, it’s crucial that we focus on why we are presenting, why it matters and how we want our audience to feel.

Please know that unless your audience feel something about the words you share and the way in which you do so, they will dismiss and forget most of it in an instant.

Don’t Multi-task

Set aside some uninterrupted quality time to consider, craft and practice your presentation. Don’t buy into the misnomer of multitasking. Despite popular belief, the human mind is unable to focus on more than one thing at a time and the more you force yours to do so you are compromising your presentation.

The more you switch to doing other things when you should be focusing exclusively on your presentation the less focus you will have on what truly matters; your audience.

Filter as you focus

Have you noticed that a great number of business presentations are filled with superfluous ‘noise’? In other words, a stream of data, facts and insights that sound impressive but serve little value in making a tangible difference to our professional or personal lives.

At Mindful Presenter we coach professionals to focus on the ‘gold’.

Imagine you are panning for gold. You can be absolutely certain that most of what you will find is dirt, dust and gravel. If you filter long and hard enough you just may find a piece of gold. That’s our job as presenters, to filter the ‘noise’ until we find the gold.

When it comes to presenting if what you have to share isn’t of significant relevance or value to your audience then it isn’t ‘gold’.

Stay mindful

If you are stressed you can be quite certain that you will severely diminish your capacity to focus.

Take a few minutes each time you commit to working on your presentation to sit quietly in a state of mindfulness.

Take a few deep breathes, and place your attention on one of your senses at a time for a few moments. Notice how your body feels, notice any sounds or smells.

Then spend a few minutes simply noticing your breath. Notice each breath in and each breath out. Don’t try to change anything, judge anything or analyse your breath, just notice it.

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs

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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