In our presentation training courses at Mindful Presenter despite what some potential clients think we don’t sit quietly the whole day meditating.
To us the concept of mindfulness offers a great deal more.
It’s a way of living that takes us off of ‘autopilot’ and living far more consciously; it’s about waking up and staying awake.
From the moment we lift our heads off of our pillows in the morning we are besieged with demands for our attention. In fact, the distractions often begin before we even before step out of our beds.
As we slept so peacefully in our comfy beds recovering from the stresses and strains from the previous day, emails were still piling into our inbox. As many professionals get ready for work a great number will have a shower without realising they even had a shower and many who are mindful enough to have breakfast before they leave the house don’t taste a thing.
We wake at the same time each morning, follow the same rituals before we leave home, take the same route to work to arrive at the same place we do every day with the same colleagues, clients and problems.
For many, most of our conversations are even the same.
That sounds quite depressing I know but it gets worse because as we manoeuvre through the day we are bombarded with demands, distractions, diatribes and deadlines. As soon as we get back home exhausted and numb many of us seek medicinal relief in a glass of wine or a muffin as we try to block out the trauma of the day.
I’m generalising of course but I’m willing to place a significant bet that as reluctant as we may be to acknowledge it I believe a very large number of us live our lives this way. I know that I certainly used to.
At Mindful Presenter we call it being on ‘autopilot’.
Sometimes, we just need to slow down, calm down, breathe and gently filter out the distractions.
Meditating is a key and highly effective element of mindfulness and it’s something we greatly encourage and do ourselves in our own lives. However, at Mindful Presenter we’ve taken a giant leap forward as we believe there is so much we can all do to slow down the noise, become far more conscious and speak, present and live far more effectively; mindfully.
The journey begins with waking up.
I don’t of course mean just opening our eyes, I mean opening our minds too.
Here are the 5 Ways we believe that mindfulness can enhance your presentation and public peaking performance. The reason we are so passionate about what we do is because we believe that adopting these 5 approaches offer countless benefits across all areas of life not just public speaking.
Start each day, end each day and spend a few brief moments throughout each day noticing.
Notice what you are thinking, what you are feeling and how conscious you are in the very moment you’ve paused to reflect. Take a few deep breaths tune into yourself and notice everything. Notice any tensions in your body, how it feels to sit or stand where you are and what’s around you that you’ve never paid much attention to before.
Next time you have a shower take a few moments to notice:
The scent and softness of your shower gel.
Before you massage the shampoo into your hair take a moment to smell it and experience how it feels.
Notice how the water hits your body.
Notice the temperature of the water and where it drips from your body.
Notice the bathroom mirror steam up.
Notice how in that moment no one wants anything from you or needs anything from you and you can just be completely in the shower.
Now let’s turn our attention to presenting and public speaking.
The moment you are asked to present notice what thoughts and feelings come to mind.
As you sit down to craft your presentation notice how much time and energy you invest focusing on you and how much is about your audience.
Notice how you see yourself as presenter and any self-talk that plays repeatedly in your mind.
Notice whether you are doing what you always do or whether you are approaching this presentation differently.
As you stand to present if you find yourself feeling a little anxious notice where and how you are feeling it.
2. Let go
As hard as it may be don’t try to judge, evaluate or make assumptions about what you notice, just notice it. Let your thoughts and feelings arrive, acknowledge whatever it is you’ve noticed and then let it go.
Once you’ve noticed the symptoms and placement of your anxiety as you stand to speak don’t start to criticize yourself and imagine everything that could go wrong; take a few breathes and let it go.
If someone in the audience yawns or looks at their watch as you speak then don’t tell yourself they must be really bored, just notice it and let it go.
If you notice a lot of negative self- talk as your prepare for your presentation don’t start to analyse every thought just acknowledge them and let them go.
If as you sit down to prepare you notice you begin to do what you always do don’t judge yourself for it just acknowledge it and let it go.
You’ve tuned in to yourself in terms of what you are thinking; how you are feeling and where you are actually feeling any sensations and you’re learning to let it all go. Now take a moment to ask yourself how you would like to feel and imagine what it would be like to feel that way.
If you’re about to speak and you notice that you feel nervous and your palms are becoming sweaty focus on what a sense of calm and confidence looks like. Imagine what you may be saying to yourself to make you feel calm and confident; imagine how you would stand, breath, walk and look.
Hold in mind what you actually want and spend a few moments focusing on that instead of what’s happening that you don’t want.
4. See the future
As you’ve begun to focus now start to envision the outcome you want.
Make it clear, bright and colourful; if you’re about to present, see your audience smiling and nodding in agreement. Hold the image of them looking relaxed and engaging with you. Many people who take the time to envision the future, whilst they want a positive outcome they imagine everything that could go wrong or get in their way.
Interestingly, most of what you will hear or read about mindfulness centres on the principle of staying in the moment and focusing on now rather than living in the past or future.
We embrace that principle too but Mindful presenting extends way beyond that. For us the opportunity of ‘now’ in mindfulness revolves around consciousness and a high level of awareness. It’s that awareness in the moment that allows us to tap into the faculty of our imagination to envision the future and remember the past. The way we coach mindfulness in presenting public speaking is to use our consciousness in the moment to see either the past of the future entirely in the positive.
Whilst you’re focused on what you want the future to look like and how you need to feel to get there the next step is to remember that at some point in your life you have already felt as you wish to feel now. Whether you need to feel confident, excited, and passionate or calm the fact is that you have almost certainly already felt all of those emotions many times in your life already.
Whilst you were busy unconsciously enjoying those feelings thankfully they were stored away as memories in your subconscious mind. Whatever you need to feel you have it within your reach to remember a time you actually felt that way, to tune into it and remember it again.
Take your mind back to that positive time and see what you saw back then, hear what you heard and feel exactly what you felt.
It works beautifully if you take the time just before you stand to present to remember a time you felt really happy, confident and excited.
I remember reading an article in the Huffington Post written by Bill George called ‘The Power of Mindful Leadership’ in which he stated that ‘Becoming a mindful leader isn’t easy. There are no five easy steps to do so’. I remember thinking at the time how right but also how wrong I believed he was.
Mindfulness certainly isn’t easy in aspect of life whether it’s leadership, presenting or simply living, although I do believe that taking these five steps as difficult as they may be can go a long way to helping us.
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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