Here's a recent discovery delighting my more nervous trainees.
You can use your eyes to trick your own brain into feeling confident and engaging with your audience the way you should.
First, check if you're qualified to get some benefit from this. Do you recognise any of these thoughts: I'll forget my words. I'll make mistakes. They'll see through me. I'm not good enough. I'm not a show pony. I don't belong here. Yes? Stay with me. What about this thought: I don't see individuals in front of me, I see a sea of faces. Yes?
Then this trick is for you. It deals directly to that last thought about the sea of faces.
While you're speaking, while you're looking around, make yourself stop on a single individual and - for only a single heartbeat - look directly into that person's eyes. In that tiny moment, give that person a tiny nod. Then move your eyes somewhere else in the audience and do it again.
There's an immediate, double payoff. In that instant the person you looked at feels a frisson of pleasure that you engaged. But most importantly, in that instant you will forget to be nervous. Do it again with another individual and there's another instant when you're not nervous. Then another. And another... another... another... Wait a minute, what happened to the nervousness? Now you can deliver your message with the confidence it deserves.
You see what just happened? You didn't try to tell yourself to stop being nervous - which never works - instead, you shifted your focus to something way more useful.
That is some trick. I'm now introducing it in every presentation skills training workshop.
Are you going to try it? I'm keen to hear the results. Please use my full name Michael Brown when you Contact me.
So simple, so effective. This works really well for many trainees, especially if they're a little nervous.
Scroll back through your life memories and milestones. Look for an event that made you feel absolutely terrific. An achievement? That first kiss? A birth? Won a prize? Overcame a fear? Choose a moment when you felt in control and you were 'walking on air'. Don't tell me you don't have such a memory - we all have them. For me, it's the moment when - after months of preparation - I first headed our yacht out to sea.
Now, modern science tells us that our thoughts and our bio-chemistry are strongly linked. Every thought you have modifies the mix of chemicals cascading continuously through your body. Mind affects body. And the reverse - body affects mind.
Here's what to do. Just before you go in front of the audience:
Fix that wonderful moment in your mind. Focus on it so vividly that you feel it in your stomach. Wallow in that feeling for a full minute, the strength of your remembered feelings are the magic ingredient here.
Now, step out in front of your audience, riding that feeling. You're using your mind to influence your body, which influences your mind. Neat.
Was it a racy memory? If anyone compliments you the way you spoke, tell them that your secret can never be revealed to the world :-)
Interested in a workshop on presentation skills to help your team become confident, engaging speakers?