woman speaking in public with microphone

At Mindful Presenter, professionals come to us for help with their presentation skills because they have been presenting extensively for many years to a wide range of audiences and they just want to see if there are any new ‘tools’ to give them ‘the edge’. Others are very new to the skill and are keen to be the very best that they can and avoid bad habits right from the start.

The range of reasons is of course diverse, yet we believe the goal is generally always the same; we all want to make an impact, a difference and to connect emotionally as well as intellectually with our audience.

Despite having such an honourable objective, sadly there is often a huge obstacle in the way of some of us.

Unfortunately, human beings repeatedly suffer from a terribly complex and debilitating affliction when it comes to their perception of the way they communicate and present their ideas to others. It’s a timeless torment which can cause many a great deal of distress; we call it ‘head stuff’.

‘Head stuff’ is the common human scourge where our minds are fraught and overwhelmed by negative thoughts about just how poor we are at something. Those thoughts are very rarely as true as we imagine them to be because it’s nothing but that gloomy internal voice we all have which can significantly distort and derail the reality of how good we actually are at something.

There is even a name for it, it’s called ‘ego’.

Here are 9 characteristics we see in some of our clients each week that many don’t readily see for themselves. It’s quite likely that many of these will apply to you even though you may not appreciate it.

1. You speak plainly

It’s such a joy to hear professionals keep it simple when they are presenting their ideas. These are the people who know they have something important to share and aren’t trying to show off how hard they’ve worked or how much they know by using jargon and language most of us don’t hear every day.

They present as though they are speaking with friends, they use short sentences, simple language and even give us examples.

2. You are prepared to be vulnerable

Can you imagine how beautiful it is in this ego-centric world we live in today when a professional ditches the bravado and lets us see who they really are?

These are the people who instead of loving hearing themselves speak, love to connect with their audience on a personal as well as professional level. They let them into their lives a little, share their thoughts, feelings and opinions and aren’t obsessed with being judged.

3. There’s something about your face…

I don’t mean that you are better looking than the average person; it’s far simpler than that.

You smile

There is very little more infectious than a genuine smile when you are sitting in the audience listening to someone speak, you know they are comfortable up there and so it makes you feel good. It often doesn’t just stop at a natural smile as when presenter’s facial expressions are congruent with their words their audience get to feel their message as well as hear it.

Have you ever heard a speaker tell you how passionate they are about the topic they are speaking on yet they’ve forgotten to tell their face?

4. You look good

It may sound a little shallow to many but I warm more to presenters who dress for the occasion. If you’re a man it doesn’t mean you have to wear a tie all of the time but a nice fitting suit and polished shoes can work well; smart business casual can be very pleasing on the eye too.

For ladies business attire is usually also business suit or dress /skirt and jacket.

It’s very common in many businesses today to adopt a ‘business casual’ style of dress for both men and women which are also great as long as you look smart.

Have you ever noticed that you are far more likely to take a presenter more seriously if they are dressed well?

5. You are interested

The best starting point you could aim for in any speech or presentation is to pay far more attention to being interested in your audience than hearing yourself speak. It goes without saying of course that your audience want you to be interesting but not at their expense.

It’s extremely endearing to listen to a presenter speak who has clearly done their homework and research, completely understand their audience and speaks with the sole intention of making a difference to them.

6. You tell stories

How many articles have you read telling you how important it is to connect with your audience through telling them stories and that’s how ‘we learn’?

It’s true, and we should all tell stories.

Stories allow your audience to see your personality and they breathe life into your message. When a speaker shares a true, personal story that is relevant to the topic you are far more likely to relate to them and remember their story.

7. You don’t take yourself too seriously

At Mindful Presenter we have a belief that being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all of the time. You can have a very important and serious message to deliver but you can still do so in a way that doesn’t make your audience feel as though they are back at school.

There is something really captivating about a speaker who can deliver a serious message in a way that allows them to show a sense of humour, warmth and ease.

8. You have an interesting voice

There is nothing more painful than listening to a speaker who has a monotonous voice.

Every audience needs to be stimulated and engaged through changes in volume, pitch, tone and pace.

Aside from our mind and attitude our voice really is our greatest gift when it comes to capturing and holding an audience’s attention and each week we see people who have had no training who know just how to use theirs.

They are animated and are constantly changing the rhythm, volume and intonation of their voice.

9. You make the sky blue

I live in London in the UK, its Saturday 2nd July and we’ve just had enough rain in the whole month of June to prompt me to consider building my own ark.

As I sat down to write this article in my office an ‘alien’ stream of sunlight hit the screen of my laptop and as it’s something I hadn’t seen in some time I abandoned the article to rush to the garden to see if it was real.

It wasn’t my imagination, true enough there was a huge patch of bright blue sky right before my eyes; needless to say it didn’t hang around for long.

It struck me that every week we work with professionals who despite never having had any formal presentation training know exactly how to make the ‘sky blue’.

Their message is clear, relevant and attractive; they speak and move with a sense of warmth and ease that makes you feel good. They help you to relax, breathe and enjoy the moment.

We all feel great when the sky is blue and the sun is shining down on us and that’s a gift we all have as speakers yet some use it more than others.

We each already have these 9 characteristics available to us and yet some people already have the confidence, presence and grace to use them naturally when presenting. Others have to work a little harder to make them visible and effective.

If you are one of those speakers who already:

Speaks plainly

Knows how to be vulnerable

Uses your face

Look good

Are interested

Tells stories

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Have an interesting voice

Can make the sky blue

Congratulations, you don’t need presentation training or a coach, although you may want one to help you to see and believe it for yourself.

If you need help to enable your audience to really benefit from these gifts we all have but perhaps just need a little polishing then there is plenty you can do. Don’t try to perfect each of these characteristics each time you speak, pick one or two each time and work at them until it feels right for you and your audience.

Image: Courtesy of www.dreamstime.com