Mindful presenting is the future of high impact communication and business presenting. Today, more than ever, we need to present our ideas with confidence, clarity and presence.
Every day in businesses across the globe people sit attentively in the hope that the speaker will tell them something they don’t already know. Mindful presenting equips us to present to audiences in a way they’ve never been connected with before.
We are approaching the end of another year and I’m sure that you have already presented or been presented to in:
– The monthly senior management team review
– The quarterly update
– The team meeting
– The Board meeting
I’m asked often asked what Mindful Presenting is, why it’s any different to ‘normal’ presenting . When I explain, the next questions is always, if it’s so great why everyone doesn’t do it?
Cast your mind back to one of the most recent business presentation you have attended:
– What do you remember?
– How much do you remember?
– How did you feel the moment the presenter finished speaking?
– How did you feel when you returned to your desk or car?
At mindful presenter we believe that after a typical business presentation most people will forget around 90% of what they heard by the time the get back to their car or desk.
At best they will feel indifferent.
It’s a whole new world
The world has changed radically in the last 3 decades alone:
Everything has changed apart from the way many professionals speak and present to each other in business.
In many of the biggest, most successful and influential brands in the world, highly creative, intelligent and talented professionals are still:
– Reading slides fraught with bullet points, text and data
– Donning the ‘corporate spokesperson’ voice and demeanour
– Speaking in a monotone voice
– Telling people how clever they are, how much the know and how hard they work
– Leaving fellow professionals feeling bored, numb, indifferent or disinterested
That’s mindless presenting
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Mindful Presenting is:
– Speaking with purpose, power and humility
– Adding value and making a difference each time you speak
– Connecting with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually
– Finding and valuing your true voice
– Speaking with confidence, clarity and impact
– Using your voice effectively with the courage to challenge the status- quo and lead real and positive change
The following thoughts will give you some insight into Mindful Presenting, although I hasten to add that the answers lay in the experiential journey rather than a list of points.
1. Laptop v mind
The mediocre presenter immediately turns on the laptop and starts typing.
The laptop is the last thing that gets turned on by the Mindful Presenter. Mindful Presenting involves opening our minds first. Finding the time and space to just be present, think and feel; long before populating templates.
2. Process v clarity
The mediocre presenter shares the data and detail first leaving the audience wondering whether they are in the right room and what could be so important.
The Mindful presenter makes it clear from the start why they are all there and why they should care. Their audience knows quickly how the presenter can help and make a difference to their lives and what they are required to do to see the benefits.
3. Logic vs Emotion
The mediocre presenter focuses on facts and data all designed to impress their audience and show how hard they have worked. The Mindful presenter understands that we are emotional beings and that our feelings often over-ride logic. They deliver the facts, data and evidence but do so in a way that triggers the audience’s emotions to help them to feel and remember the facts.
4. Complexity v simplicity
The mediocre presenter holds the belief that the more complex the message is the more knowledgeable they will appear. They use jargon, text heavy slides and their presentations are far too long.
The Mindful presenter keeps it simple by using clear and powerful headlines, compelling images and makes sure everyone ‘gets it’
5. Me v you?
The mediocre presenter tells their audience what they want their audience to know and hear; after all it’s their show.
The Mindful presenter is only interested in what the audience wants and needs to hear to be able to make a difference and help them to move forward.
6. Reading v impact
The mediocre presenter reads the slides. That’s why they wrote so much on them; it’s their script to help them to remember what to say to their audience.
The Mindful Presenter never, ever reads slides. They know exactly what they want to say and every slide has been very carefully designed to help the audience receive the message with greater clarity and impact.
7. Practicing v internalising
The mediocre presenter believes that they can run through their presentation a couple of times beforehand and if it makes sense to them then it will be fine for their audience.
The Mindful Presenter does everything they can to make their content a part of themselves and so they spend many hours rehearsing.
Not memorising, just rehearsing.
They know their content inside and out and leave no stone unturned in ensuring that everything they have crafted to say and the way they say it will be of significance to their audience.
Mindful presenting is about internalising our message.
8. Arriving v being
The mediocre presenter believes that once they have built their slides or written their script they can just turn up and say what they have to say. Once they have checked the audio visuals they get straight into their presentation because they just want to get it done.
The Mindful Presenter also gets to the venue early to check the AV but they do much more. They spend time just absorbing the room. They stand for a few minutes from where they will be speaking and then take time to sit in a few of the audience’s seats to see the room from their perspective.
Once they have made friends with the AV team they spend a few minutes meditating before the audience arrives to clear their head and create a safe place. They then meet and greet as many of the audience as they can.
Mindful presenting is about being before speaking.
9. Assumptions v truth
Mediocre presenters will often make judgments about their audience. If someone yawns, whispers to the person sitting next to them or check their phone they label them as bored or uninterested.
Mindful presenters recognise their audience as human beings first and foremost.
They understand human behaviour and accept that occasionally someone may do something that may make them appear a little disinterested but it doesn’t mean they are.
Unless the whole room are behaving in similar ways they don’t jump to conclusions.
10. Speaking v pausing
The mediocre presenter’s perspective is that because they’ve done the work they don’t need to think before they speak and that includes answering questions.
The Mindful presenter thinks before they speak, especially when it comes to answering questions. They know that its best if they take a few seconds to really think about the question and how they want to answer it.
Throughout the presentation itself they take regular moments to pause, breathe and allow themselves and their audience to think.
11. Dashing v staying
The mediocre presenter can’t wait to get straight back to work once they have finished speaking. Sometimes they will even sneak out unnoticed.
The Mindful presenter knows it’s not finished the moment they’ve answered the last question. They make a point of spending as long as they can with the audience after the presentation to answer personal questions and clarify points.
After they have left the venue they follow up with their audience and they always fulfil a promise quickly. In other words, if they promised to send them something they make sure that they do.
12. Corporate v credible
The mediocre presenter believes that to be an effective presenter you have to become the ‘corporate spokesperson’. When they stand to speak you may not recognise the person you have known for years or just had a coffee with.
The Mindful presenter doesn’t try to be someone else or act their way through the presentation. They speak their truth knowing who they are with the pure intention of giving the best of themselves.
13. Head v heart
The mediocre presenter spends more time in their heads than with their audience. They are creatures of habit who haven’t really taken time out to check what they are thinking and feeling and how they can best change to help their audience.
The Mindful presenter pays attention. They acknowledge their thoughts, feelings and reactions and manage them appropriately.
14. Objective v journey
The mediocre presenter is focused on the ‘end game’ and result. They have worked hard; just want to be liked, get what they came for and to get out as quickly as possible.
The Mindful presenter is even more interested in the journey than the result. They work hard to stay present moment by moment. They achieve that by breathing, remaining conscious about their words, actions, and reactions and impact each has on themselves as well as their audience.
Presenting is hard and mindfulness isn’t easy which is why I believe we haven’t seen a great deal of it being used in business presentations over the last decade. The world is changing though and when it comes to communication, attention spans and the way we connect with fellow human beings we are learning more each day.
For now there is a scientifically tried and tested practice that tells us beyond question that self-awareness and presence is the key to happiness and success. Given that they are the two key elements most of us continue to search for when it comes to connecting in business mindfulness must undoubtedly be the key.
We owe it to our colleagues, customers our company and ourselves to remember that when it comes to presenting connecting really is everything and the way to do so is through mindful presenting.
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