‘Work hard’, ‘Always be honest’ and ‘Do your best’ were just three of the common phrases I remember hearing repeatedly from my parents, teachers and anyone else more than 20 years older than me when I was a young boy growing up.
Those sentiments were expressed so frequently and with such conviction that it didn’t take me long to believe that they must be universal keys to lifelong success and happiness.
It took me over 20 years to realise that the real truth to the elixir of meaning, purpose and contentment was the ability to effectively express myself and connect emotionally as well as intellectually with not only myself but fellow human beings too.
It has been suggested that as many as 75% of all people experience some level of nervousness when speaking in public. That seems like an awful lot of us given that in one form or another speaking is what most of us spend most of our days doing. Interestingly, what such research doesn’t tell us is just how effective the remaining 25% who aren’t anxious are when speaking in public.
Does that mean that if you don’t feel nervous you must be good at it?
I’ve long held the belief that the ability to express and communicate with confidence, clarity and authority is by far the most important skill in the world today.
We each have a vast number of thoughts every single day, a great number of those thoughts are recycled, repetitive thoughts from previous days and for many of us a disproportionate number of our thoughts are negative.
The impact of such repetitive unconscious thinking can have a serious adverse effect on many aspects of our lives as I wrote about in my book, ‘Hamster to Harmony’.
When it comes to communicating with each other, and ourselves that means we often tend to think and say exactly the same things in the same manner regardless of who we speak to, even if speaking in public doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Mindful Presenting is the key to sharing our thoughts, ideas, experiences and messages with others in a way that connects with them emotionally as well as intellectually.
1. It’s reduces stress and anxiety
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment. It involves putting your attention on being calm whilst you acknowledge and accept what you are thinking as well as feeling.
We very rarely have control over everything so having the awareness and presence of mind to realise and accept that we are human and vulnerable can make a major difference to the way we think and speak. That means that when we communicate with ourselves and others we can allow our minds and bodies to learn how to live with more appreciation, understanding and far less anxiety.
One of the major causes of stress and anxiety most of us face is worrying about the outcome of events long before they even begin. When we are presenting many of us are in a state of high anxiety because we are ‘drowning’ in our own automatic, fearful thoughts.
‘Will they like me?’
‘Will I remember everything?’
‘What if I freeze?’
‘What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?’
Mindful presenting isn’t about banishing those thoughts because they are all possibilities. It’s about accepting them and learning how to respond in the event that they do occur.
Given that most of us seem to be conditioned to experience far too many negative and unhelpful thoughts in life in general, wouldn’t it be great if we could learn how to deal with those too?
If we can learn how to be truly present in the room with our audience, imagine what would happen if we could take that level of presence into other areas of our lives as well.
2. ‘A little less conversation, a little more action…’
‘Mindful’ Presenters and ‘Average’ Presenters normally don’t get on too well as they see things very differently.
As the late, great Elvis Presley once sang, sometimes we need, ‘A little less conversation, a little more action.’
Whilst I appreciate that I’m generalising here a little, the ‘traditional’ presenter likes to talk. It’s all too often more about them and their voice than their audience. The ‘Mindful’ presenter on the other hand knows full well that their presentation should be a conversation which influences action.
That mind-set applies not just to presenting an idea to an audience but also life in general. The ‘Mindful’ presenter understands that you can talk about your dreams all day long and keep them as dreams or you can have the presence of mind to act on them.
I think Elvis was right and his wisdom could help us greatly not just whilst presenting but in many other aspects of our lives too, we all need ‘A little less conversation, a little more action.’
3. You get to enoy the journey
Far too many professionals approach a presentation by ‘ firing up their laptops’ with the sole intention of ‘surviving’ the presentation by ‘dumping’ as much data and knowledge as they can on their audience with one objective; to impress.
The ‘Mindful’ presenter has an entirely different approach; it’s about the journey they take their audience on. The ‘Mindful’ presenter understands that every presentation offers an opportunity to share valuable life lessons, successes, failures, and stories that will make a difference to others. They know exactly what their message is but as well as sharing it, they help their audience to ‘feel’ it too.
Having the awareness and courage to appreciate the immense value of the ‘journey’ enables the ‘Mindful’ presenter to apply that same if not an even greater level of consciousness through their personal journey through life.
For them, results are important, but there is much, much more to be learned and enjoyed.
4. You stand out from the crowd
The ‘Average’ presenter tends to follow the status-quo, by doing the same thing in the same way that every other presenter they know does. I call that being on ‘autopilot’ the net result of which is often a very tedious presentation.
The ‘Mindful’ presenter knows that it is their job to challenge the status-quo and to stand apart from the rest.
If that is your attitude, focus and mind-set when it comes to the act of presenting your ideas to colleagues and customers, just imagine the impact you can have on the world if you dare to be different in other aspects of life too.
Isn’t that why we are all here anyway, to be different and to make a difference?
5. ‘In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.’ Eric Hoffer
The very moment you believe and announce to the world that you know everything there is to know on a topic you may as well just roll over and play dead. The ‘Average’ presenters who think they know it all just because they have been doing it for the past 25 years are often the worst to listen to. It’s the ‘Mindful’ presenter who is open to being constantly stretched, challenged and taken outside of their comfort zone who will ‘inherit the earth’.
That impact from being open to learning extends itself way beyond the training room; it’s the ultimate secret to success.
6. How do you make the impossible, possible?
That is not a question your ‘Average’ presenter asks because they are far too busy conforming and doing their best to placate their ego. The ‘Mindful’ presenter on the other hand is far more interested in opportunities.
‘Mindful’ presenters adopt a ‘can do’ mind-set by constantly looking at how to make the seemingly impossible become possible. They don’t see obstacles; they see challenges and opportunities to drive straight through or around them.
Imagine adopting that attitude and mind-set to your health, relationships, finances, work and just about every other aspect of your personal and professional life.
7. You get far more choice
We each view life completely differently from other people and our personal perspectives are manifested in how each of us live, play, work, love, interact and feel every single day.
Every day we have a choice, we can wake up each morning and live on ‘autopilot’ reacting to everything that happens to us throughout each day or we can become mindful.
Being Mindful means recognising that we aren’t machines who are programmed to live a monotonous existence, we have total awareness and control when we choose to acknowledge and activate it.
Whether you are making a sales pitch, giving a monthly update, presenting to the board or just trying to keep people motivated the key to your success is ‘Mindful’ presenting.
Interestingly, if you are simply trying to be a better husband, wife, mother, father or friend the key remains the same; it’s how you understand, accept and present yourself mindfully to others.
If the idea of living life a little more mindfully appeals to you then my recommendation is that you start small. Forget about presenting and speaking in public for a moment and practice just being in the moment in some of the smallest areas of life that most of us take for granted.
- When you are in the shower make a conscious choice to be completely in the shower, mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Feel the spray and warmth of the water on your skin, the smell and texture of your shampoo and shower gel. Notice how good it feels really being in the shower with nothing more than the experience of cleaning your body. Most people are in the shower in body but not in mind; in other words they are solving a problem at work, working out how to pay a bill, or replaying last night’s argument.
- When you are brushing your teeth take the time to really notice the feel of the brushes on your teeth, the movement of your arms as you brush; the sound of toothbrush and the taste of the toothpaste. If nothing else, we owe it to our teeth to pay them a little more attention; they work so incredibly hard for us every day.
- When you are eating make a point of looking closely at every mouthful, smelling it and feeling the tastes and textures on your tongue before you swallow. You would be amazed at how incredible something as small and as simple as a raisin feels smells and tastes if you take the time to notice.
- When you’re standing or if you are lucky enough to get a seat on the busy commute to work try to tune in to how you are feeling and focus on your breathing for a minute or two. Most people have done a day’s work answering emails before they even get to their desk. Those who aren’t working may sit in wonder as they scroll Facebook trying to fathom out why everyone else is having more fun than they are. Others of course may be simply battling their way through ‘Candy Crush’ oblivious to the world around them. Try putting your phone away for a few minutes and become aware of each breath and watch how you feel.
- If you’re like me and you live in the U.K, if the sun ever comes out again try this. Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on some grass for a few minutes. Walk very slowly, very consciously and notice how every single step feels.
When it comes to presenting and speaking in public mindfulness is by far the most powerful gift we each have to enable us to speak with confidence, eloquence and impact.
The benefits of being more mindful extends way beyond the meeting, board or conference room when you are presenting. It can also enable us to see things more clearly, to notice our thoughts, feeling and behaviours and to connect more effectively with ourselves before we begin to do so with others in every aspect of life.
Image: Courtesy of www.dreamstime.com
This article originally appeared in Mindful Presenter.
This article was written by Maurice DeCastro from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
A highly experiencedleader and presentation skills coach with over 20 years experience as the driving force behind organisational growth and success for companies in diverse industries.
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