Mindful Presenting is the route to connecting with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually. It is the new science of presenting and public speaking which will end the phenomenon of ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
Every day all over the world highly talented, intelligent and creative professionals are reading slides and reciting scripts in the name of presenting. Explaining the structure of polypeptides, selling software or simply sharing what happened last month requires a great deal more than speaking or reading.
It takes mindfulness.
Your audience don’t just want information; they want to connect with you personally.
This guide sets out everything you need to consider and do to make that mindful connection.
Facebook has somewhere in the region of 1.7 billion users and each week people are posting comments about how desperate they are for Friday to arrive. On Sunday evening those same people share their despair of having to return to work on Monday.
Countless millions of people across the world are going to work every day feeling disrespected and disregarded. Mindful Presenters make it their first priority to respect their audience.
They start their presentation on time and try to finish a little earlier than expected.
They learn as much as they possibly can in advance about their audience.
They NEVER read slides
They don’t talk down to them and they don’t speak above them.
They give their audience what they need not what the presenter wants.
When it comes to presenting simplicity isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact it’s often the greatest challenge for most speakers. The reason it’s difficult is because it is the presenter’s job to understand the complexity of their topic so their audience don’t have to. Once that complexity is fully understood only then is it time to break it down in a way that your audience can easily understand. Mindful Presenters do everything they can to keep things simple enough so that their audience ‘gets it’.
They strip away everything that doesn’t add significant value
They avoid bullet points at all costs
They tell short, relevant and powerful stories
They uses charts and graphs minimally and very carefully
Their mantra is ‘less is more’
People are afraid to present their ideas and speak in public. It isn’t something most of us are taught to do and regardless of our age, position or experience the truth is it can leave us feeling very vulnerable. Courage is finding the ability to do something which scares us; here is how Mindful Presenters find the spirit to stand and deliver.
They know their topic inside out and have a very clear message.
They focus on engaging their hearts as well as their minds
They practice a great deal but they don’t memorize a script.
They learn simple breathing exercises
Much of our own fear and anxiety about presenting and speaking in public comes from our own ego. Our ego has only one clear goal; we want to look good in front of our audience. In our efforts to demonstrate how much we know, how hard we work and how intelligent we are our presentations end up being all about us instead of our audience. Mindful Presenters understand that the key to success is humility.
They put their focus on their audience and not on themselves.
They recognise that their audience is more interested in their failures as presenters rather than their successes.
They want their audience to have an experience not just get information.
They know that all their audience really want from them is honesty, respect and passion.
They don’t pretend to have all of the answers.
Grace isn’t a word you often hear associated with presenting although for Mindful Presenters it’s the apex of public speaking. When a speaker makes everything seem so effortless, when their voice and movement flow seamlessly and they stand with such poise its grace. Here is how Mindful Presenters speak with grace.
They pause to help their message land with their audience
They acknowledge their audience and demonstrate that they understand them.
They move smoothly with purpose and passion.
They speak like they are singing by using their voice to breathe life into their words.
They breathe properly, from their diaphragm.
Mindful presenters think about and appreciate the world we live in a great deal. That thoughtfulness extends to contemplating the opportunity they have to make a difference to the lives of their audience. The very last thing a mindful presenter will do is to open their laptop and begin typing. They follow 5 important steps before they do anything else:
They sit quietly in the comfort of their own mind and rest in the present moment.
They contemplate the opportunities and possibilities for their audience.
They ponder on what’s so important for their audience to know.
They get absolute clarity on their message and what they want their audience to think, feel and do.
They detach themselves from the outcome and focus on the journey.
Countless articles have been written about the importance of authenticity in public speaking and most give one piece of advice; ‘just be yourself’.
I don’t believe that’s wise counsel.
Human beings are creatures of habit, we are conditioned to think the same thoughts over and over again and do the same things we always do. Sometimes just being yourself isn’t enough. At Mindful Presenter we believe that the real essence of authenticity in public involves finding and being your ‘best self’. Mindful Presenters develop their authentic speaking style based on understanding who they really are rather than who they think they should be
They go out of their way to get feedback on what works well for them a speaker and play to those strengths.
They never try to copy or manufacture speaking styles just to look good, they find their own by tuning in to their natural gifts.
They let their personality through. If they are a little ‘quirky’ that’s fine, if they are high in energy or humour that’s fine too.
They are prepared to be vulnerable.
They let their audience into their personal world.
I often share my belief and concern that far too many professionals seem to think that being professional means you have to be deadly serious when presenting at work. Unless you are making people redundant or delivering some other awful news humour is a great gift to give your audience. Mindful Presenters believe that injecting a little appropriate humour into their presentation is one of the many keys to connecting with their audience.
They take their topic but not themselves seriously.
They tell funny stories, anecdotes and metaphors.
They smile and make people smile.
They don’t tell jokes, they share observations.
They use humorous images and props.
The reason most of us dread sitting through presentations at work is because most of them are the same and it’s that ‘sameness’ that makes them boring. The secret to getting your audience’s attention and keeping it is by ensuring that your presentation is creative and different. Mindful presenters invest a great deal of time and energy in creative thinking to help them to stand out from the crowd and connect with their audience.
They throw out the rule book and adopt an ‘anything goes’ attitude.
They surround themselves with creative people and study creativity.
They daydream, doodle and let their mind wander.
They use colourful and stunning slides.
The open with a bang and embrace the watchwords, curiosity, connecting and compelling.
What good would a guide on mindful presenting be that simply tells you how to do it but not what it is and why it’s important? Mindfulness is the key to success, happiness and peace of mind in every walk of life not just presenting and public speaking.
It is the faculty of mind and spirit that allows us to be fully aware and present in each moment. I once heard someone say that ‘most people are tiptoeing through life hoping to make it safely to death.’ Mindfulness is about living each moment and enjoying the journey.
We often have professionals attend our presentation training workshops and public speaking coaching looking for ‘gimmicks’ and ‘tools’. We don’t believe in ‘gimmicks’ and whilst we have plenty of ‘tools’ and techniques’ to share, the essence of Mindful presenting involves learning how to be completely in the room with yourself and your audience. Mindful presenters practice the art of mindfulness long before they stand to present.
They don’t just take a shower; they live feel and experience every moment of the shower.
They don’t simply eat; they smell, feel and taste every mouthful of their food.
They don’t just have a conversation; they listen intently to every spoken and unspoken word and think before they respond.
They don’t simply read a book or watch a film; they step into the characters and the story.
They take time to breathe, slow down, notice and appreciate the world around them.
Mindfulness is a significant challenge for all of us and I don’t believe that it’s ever something we completely master. It is however the ultimate challenge and something we can all aspire to. Imagine the impact we would have on our audience and the difference we could make to their lives if we practiced being completely in the room with them.
I believe that to do so effectively we each have to practice being in every element of our own lives first.
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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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