Last week we talked about “Beth,” a nervous presenter. Beth is a smart, articulate professional, but when it came to presenting, she struggled and became self-conscious.
The first hurdle we had to jump was to settle her thoughts so that she could be in control. We did that through active pausing.
Beth was amazed at how such a simple thing could give her so much control over her ability to communicate clearly and confidently.
That’s great, but Beth also needs to be able TO DO IT, even when the stakes are high. That will require a new level of self-awareness (not self-consciousness) and engagement than what she’s used to.
“You need to be able to recognize – even when things are swirling out of control – that it’s happening. That level of awareness is critical in order for you to take control back,” I said.
In our workshops, we talk a lot about being engaged in the conversation. Even when the stakes are high, we need to be as comfortable and in control as we are in everyday low-stakes situations. We need to be able to shift our focus outward, look around the room, take stock, think, and most importantly, we need to make a connection with the people we’re speaking with.
Rather than thinking, “How am I doing?” we need to think, “How are THEY doing?”
That requires eye contact, not scanning the room. Not looking over their heads, but real solid make-a-connection eye contact so that you actually SEE them.
We’ve written about it many times, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. Here’s a good primer on engagement.
The bottom line is that in order to be an effective presenter, one who is truly in control and fully aware of what’s going on around them, you need to be self-aware and engaged in the conversation taking place.
Easier said than done, for sure.
Let us know how we can help you.