Do you sometimes wonder what it would take for you to become a more confident presenter and public speaker? At Mindful Presenter we believe that we all have everything we need to connect with confidence, clarity and purpose each time we speak. Whether you are presenting to your colleagues in a team meeting, your management team at your monthly update or speaking to clients, the one thing we need to connect with our audience is already within our gift.

It’s our mind

I believe that it was the late George Bernard Shaw who once said that, “Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

For me that statement represents a challenge for each of us to pause for a few moments to think about the way we think. It seems to me that what Mr Shaw may have been trying to say is that most of us think that we think, but do we really?

When you stop to really think about it, thinking is hard.

If most of us are honest with ourselves, we don’t even have to read the wealth of research that says for the most part we are all creatures of habit. We are so busy being busy that many of us operate on ‘auto-pilot’.

When it comes to us having to present to colleagues or clients or speak in public, many of us will approach the opportunity in exactly the same way as we always have with a much lower level of consciousness than our audience deserves. The net result of such an approach is mediocrity and sameness with many people wondering why they weren’t just sent an email instead.

The route to success is simple but not easy.

If you have the courage and presence of mind to take the journey you will find yourself connecting with and inspiring fellow human beings in a way you never imagined possible.

Step 1 – Give yourself a break

The number one challenge we have to help people with during our presentation training courses is what we call their own personal ‘head stuff’. It’s the voice of self-criticism that tells us that we are simply not good enough.

We criticize ourselves for way we stand, the way we sound, the way we use our hands and even the way we move. The problem is that for the most part it is self-indulgent criticism that is very rarely warranted or true. I wish I knew the percentage of people we train and coach who insist they have a long list of bad habits when they speak when most of them simply aren’t visible.

The first step on the journey to high impact presenting and public speaking is to STOP criticising yourself.

Let’s be clear now, that doesn’t mean that you become blissfully unaware of your bad habits and challenges but it does mean that you give yourself a break and find out whether they are real or simply ‘head stuff’. If you find out that they are real it doesn’t make you a bad person or presenter, but it does give you the opportunity to explore alternative strategies.

Please give yourself a break and stop criticising yourself.

Step 2 – Stop with the bogeyman

When I was a small boy I remember my parent’s strategy to avoid me entering a certain room in the house was to tell me that ‘the bogeyman was in there’. On reflection, that wasn’t the kindest of things to say, although from their perspective it served its purpose.

Regardless of age, experience or status, it’s clear to us at Mindful Presenter that many professionals have created their own personal bogeyman to accompany them each time they speak. It takes the shape of another voice:

‘What if they don’t like me?’

‘What happens if I freeze?’

‘What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?’

Stop terrorizing yourself with such awful thoughts. How would you react if your best friend asked you those questions? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t hesitate in telling them where to go.

Instead of dwelling on such disempowering questions hold a mental image in your mind of something that you like which looks and feels good instead.

Step 3 – Identify your strengths

Instead of investing so much time, energy and focus worrying about all of the things that you don’t like about yourself as a presenter or public speaker, focus on what works.

Find someone you trust and respect to listen to you practice your presentation and ask them to focus exclusively on only the things they like about the way you speak. Give them permission to only share the attributes they like and make them promise to not simply make things up to simply satisfy your ego.

As they do so ask them to focus on how you make them feel as you speak and if it’s not exactly what you intended ask them what needs to change.

Once you know your strengths invest more of your time in harnessing and exploiting them to work for you rather than focusing on your weaknesses.