Mindful Presenting is the key to connecting with any audience with clarity, confidence and creativity. High impact presenting and public speaking aren’t skills reserved exclusively for seasoned executives or celebrities; they are talents available to all of us.
Whether you are presenting to your team, an important client, or the executive board, the A to Z of mindful presenting will serve you well. Each week we will share one of the 26 attributes with you for you to ponder and practice.
A – Acres of diamonds
‘Acres of Diamonds’ is a story by Russell Conwell about an African farmer who heard tales of other farmers who had made fortunes discovering diamond mines on their own land.
The story explains that the farmer sold his farm and spent the rest of his life searching unsuccessfully for diamonds across Africa. At the end of his tether and in total despair he threw himself into a river and drowned.
The man who had bought his farm later found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered right on the very land the previous owner left to search for his fortune.
The story offers our first lesson in high impact presenting and public speaking; everything we need to successful is there all the time, we just need to see it.
Whether you are speaking about finance, pharmaceuticals or farming, everything you need to present effectively is already within you. We each have acres and acres of diamonds we can polish to help us to become better presenters. Here are just three of them.
One of the most common challenges we help professionals with in our presentation training courses and public speaking coaching is overcoming fear. In the same way the diamonds were already on the original farmers own land in ‘Acre of Diamonds’ the antidote to fear is already in each of us.
Adjust your thermostat
We believe that the antidote to fear is confidence, which despite what the anxious presenter thinks, is a gift readily available to each of us. When it comes to confidence we are like thermostats in that we each have our own default setting. As we are such complex creatures that setting can change every day.
Consider confidence on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing feeling invincible and 1 the lowest level. Imagine you wake up tomorrow with a neutral setting of 5, you can be certain that the whole day will present you with external triggers that turn your thermostat both up and down with great frequency.
It could be something someone says to you, something they do or even a thought or image you hold in your mind.
Now imagine an internal confidence thermostat in your mind which you can turn all the way up or down at any time you choose. If it helps, use a packet of playing cards and removing the royalty, the Ace represents a one, which is the lowest level of confidence, moving all the way up to a 10, which is you feeling unstoppable.
Carry an 8 of clubs (or diamonds) with you the next time you are called on to present. Hold in your mind an image of yourself as an 8 in confidence and step into it. Whilst holding that image in your mind may feel like a challenge, be aware that you have been an 8 before at various times in your life and each time you have, those feelings are stored in every cell of you.
All you have to do is to have the mindfulness to recall and hold those feelings for a few moments and the route to doing so is holding that image in your mind.
Remember though, repetition is the mother of learning so please don’t just try it once and send me an email telling me it didn’t work. Practice doing it again and again.
What goes on in ‘Vagus’ doesn’t have to stay there
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve emanating from the brain. It carries vital information from the brain to tissues and organs in our bodies. Whilst it has many functions one of the gifts it offers us is the ability to help us to manage and recover from stressful and fearful situations. It does so by communicating with the diaphragm and is activated with deep breaths which leave a presenter feeling far more relaxed when overcome with fear.
It’s one of our many ‘diamonds’ that we don’t have to leave home to find, all we have to do is take a few deep breaths.
It’s true, a smile does travel miles
Over 30 years ago I worked in a call center and the one thing I learned which has served me well my whole life is the power of a smile. Even though we were speaking to customers over the phone and not face to face the trainer at the time shared with us the ‘cheesy’ saying, ‘a smile travels miles’; even down a phone line.
The simple human act of smiling increases endorphins, helping us to feel calmer and more relaxed about our presentation. Smiling not only makes you look more confident, friendly and likeable, it’s infectious and makes your audience feel better too.
You don’t have to go anywhere, see anyone or spend a penny to adjust your thermostat, breathe and smile. These are 3 of the countless diamonds we have within us which can help us immeasurably when presenting and speaking in public.
Image courtesy of: Shutterstock
This article originally appeared in Mindful Presenter.