There is no quicker way to lose your audience than by “going through the motions”. Remedy that by learning to speak listen with presence.
“Going through the motions” means your body is present, but your mind and spirit have left the building. Sometimes the audience is quicker to recognise memorised, disingenuous rote, than the speaker / trainer themselves. This is sad. Going through the motions leads to boredom, the dulling of creativity and a loss of credibility. To speak listen with presence, start by listening to your audience first.
First, Listen To Your Audience
Presence is the opposite to “going through the motions.” Body, mind and spirit are working harmoniously, fully connected in the present moment. An audience “switches on” when they realise the speaker / trainer is authentic and available to them right here and right now. It charges the atmosphere and inspires trust, rapport and connection and generates credibility, energy and impact. This is exciting. Being present produces new paradigms, spontenaity, flexibility and empowered results. Listening to your audience allows you to be present with them.
Begin With Presence
Start with presence, by preparing yourself in advance. The state of presence is a habit like any other and until it becomes second nature when you speak in public, you need to prepare the space you will step into, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Recognising the importance of your presentation to you and others, provides motivation and clarity for making time to prepare. Insufficient preparation is the most common public speaking mistake. When you don’t like public speaking, there is a tendency to over prepare (obsess) or under prepare (avoid). Like Little Red Riding Hood, talk preparation needs to be “just right” for you. By designing your own preparation habit or ritual, you send yourself the message, “This talk is important, worth my time and I am going to be present for it.” ” I am going to speak & listen with presence. ”
What is your usual pattern of behaviour before a talk? Does it serve you or dishonour you?
Stay With Presence
Stay present, by accepting that you will move in and out of the present moment with your group or audience. That’s life. The key is to not beat yourself up when you feel a disconnect and thus get preoccupied with your own story. Instead, stop, take a breath, connect with one person and give yourself permission to start again with them. Staying present is a series of small comings and goings riding on the ebb and flow of mindful awareness.
Finish With Presence
Finish with presence, by making it clear to everyone that you are indeed finishing. Use verbal clues with a clear instruction like: “We’ll wrap up in ten minutes and then I’ll invite questions.” This will swing every participant’s attention back to the present moment (as well as your own), alerting them to be prepared for all that your finish may entail (Q & A, assessment, feedback, special offers).
Even if you felt disconnected throughout your presentation, you can still finish with a good connection. Stay still when you acknowledge your group in completion, making genuine eye contact with one person at a time. Take your time and stay grounded and focussed, allowing participants to acknowledge you with whatever they offer, like a clap, cheer or nod, accept it graciously and finish your presentation fully present, without your mind rushing off to the next thing.
Speak Listen With Presence Starts Now
Listeners are usually most alert at the beginning and the end of a training talk, presentation or conversation, so make the most of it by connecting strongly. Connecting with presence takes less than ten seconds. Speak listen with presence happens every time you choose. Once you know how, you can do it anytime, anywhere.
© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au