Unselfconsciousness

This video makes me smile.

As you watch it, you might ask yourself a few questions:

Are these people doing what they’re doing “perfectly” or are they willing simply to do it and have a good time?

Are they polished, flawless and impressive? Or happy, free and focussed?

Do they appear to worry about what people think of them?

If they make a mistake, do they look fretful or do they just move forward and get on with the dance?

Can you approach your next presentation with the same openness and joy these people embrace?

(Answer: yes, you can.)

What have you done lately that expresses freedom, confidence and connection?

‎”Finally, in conclusion, let me say just this.”

This quotation from Peter Sellers makes me laugh.

This type of ending to a presentation does not.

When you are ready to wrap up your talk, do it. Avoid prolonging it with statements like, “Without further ado,” “To make a long story short,” or even “In conclusion.” Why not? They have become trite fillers, fall-back remarks that can take away from the naturalness and sincerity of your message. They seem to indicate, “I don’t know what else to say now, so I’ll just say this.” Find a fresh way to let your listeners know that you are nearing the end, and then go there.

Restating your main points is helpful to your audience, a brief recap of what you’ve given them. You can say something like, “Let’s go over those points one more time,” or something else that indicates the conclusion is imminent. Giving them something to do (sometimes referred to as the “call to action”) will help you leave on a strong note.

Then, when you’ve stopped talking, stand still and be quiet for a thoughtful moment. Just as an Olympic gymnast sticks the landing upon completing a routine, you, too, can take a few seconds to stay connected with what you’ve offered. This allows your listeners to ponder what you’ve just said. It keeps them focussed not on YOU, but on your message to THEM. This is the best way to end your presentation.

Here’s to poised completion,

Beverly

How do I get their attention?

 

You stand before your audience. You breathe, then look at your listeners (warmly and kindly) ready to share.

To some extent, you may have their attention. They need something more, though, before they’ll really tune in to you and your message.

“Should I tell a joke?” Only if it’s pertinent to your subject, you can tell it well, and you remember punch lines. Usually, it’s best not to try to be funny unless you actually are.

“What about offering statistics?” If they’re startling, sobering or stunning, go ahead but keep them brief. They, too, must have a direct relationship to your subject.

“Are stories good starting points?” A story can lead your listeners along a well focussed path. Keep your story short. Let it be a springboard to what’s to come next.

What are other good starters? Tasteful bumper stickers or tee shirt slogans. Quotations (give credit where it’s due). Cartoon captions. Anything that grabs attention and builds a bridge to why you’re there and what you’re about to tell them.

(I urge you: please do not start with the words, “Today I’m going to talk about . . . .” )

More on this later,

Beverly

 

F E A R

The muscular man strode to the front of the room. His buzz cut hair, piercing blue eyes and no-nonsense manner reminded us with each presentation that he meant business. A Viet Nam veteran a generation older than most of my other university public speaking students, he always seemed a bit distant and harsh. I was a little scared of him; the other students generally avoided him.

On the flip chart he wrote four bold letters in a vertical column:

F

E

A

R

Looking at each of us before he spoke, he breathed deeply. Then, in military manner, he told us that he was sure we had experienced fear. He affirmed that he, too, had known fear, giving several vivid examples from his time in service. Not clear where his speech was leading, I glanced around at his fellow students and saw unsure, sober faces.

“Now, I’m gonna tell you what fear really is,” he barked:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

His tone softened. His voice quieted. He explained that fear cannot govern us if we don’t let it because it isn’t true; we need to look beyond fear to find strength; we can feel loved rather than be afraid.

When he returned to his seat, the silence that had minutes before been one of trepidation had become one of trust and assurance, comfort and amazement.

False evidence no longer appeared real.