Powerful Tips To Help You Become A Highly Effective Speaker/Presenter - Part II
By Ron Balagot
- Avoid the need to gain approval.
What do I mean by this? Because others might say, "Well, Ron, what if I am trying to persuade the audience to accept my point of view, am I not trying to gain their approval?" My answer would be, "Yes, naturally, that would be your ultimate goal if you were trying to persuade others." Your desired outcome would, of course, be for them to accept your argument because it will benefit both you and them in some way. But I'm talking more about your mental attitude or mindset while you are speaking--which in turn affects your physiological state...
The mindset that says, "It's okay if he/she rejects my argument. That's his/her right. At least, I did my best to persuade him/her."
Or, the mindset that says: "I accept the fact that not everyone will be persuaded to my point of view, and that's okay. At least, I did what I could."
When you are focused on trying to impress others (because of your need to gain approval), you will end up saying or doing things you really don't want to say or do (in other words, it will cause you to do things against your will) and this is what causes stress/anxiety. You will feel like you are betraying yourself (or going against what you believe to be true). And you'll end up regretting it later.
What creates stress/anxiety is when your inner voice is saying, "I must do this, or I must say this... or else they will think negatively of me."
Whatever you do, avoid going into a speaking situation with the following attitude or mindset: "Please accept me. Please accept my ideas. I won't be able to handle it if you don't. I'll feel like a failure if you reject me or my ideas." Because if you possess that kind of attitude, even if you don't say those words outright, your audience will sense your lack of confidence (both in yourself and in your ideas) and your lack of self-esteem. You'll end up sabotaging your own efforts...and your performance will suffer...thus, you will not be effective in fulfilling your objective of persuading your audience.
Instead, your attitude should be more like: "I have something very valuable to offer you that I believe will highly benefit you. This is what you'll gain/benefit if you accept my offer. And this is what you'll lose out on (or this is the pain you'll continue to experience) if you don't. The decision to accept or reject my offer is completely up to you. That is your right. And I'll respect your decision. As for me, I'll lose nothing if you reject my offer."
In other words, it is you who carries the key to the treasure chest. Since you are the one who has something valuable and beneficial to offer your audience, you shouldn't appear like you're begging for approval.
Besides, you need to be honest with yourself and accept the fact that you will not always win everyone to your point of view (consider yourself fortunate if you are able to do so). Of course, you would still do whatever it takes to try and persuade each audience member (if the objective of your presentation is to persuade), but realize that it's perfectly okay if you don't.
The ones who accept your message, or are moved by your message, are the ones destined to benefit. Don't worry about the rest who don't (in other words, don't make it a problem--don't let it bother you). Maybe your message wasn't meant for them. Or the time is not right for them to receive it. Maybe they'll be persuaded in the future when their circumstances change and they remember your speech. Who knows? Whatever the case may be, simply accept the outcome and move on.
Basically, you ought to be like a good teacher who tells his/her students what they need to hear, and not what they want to hear...and you would do it with the understanding that they're free to walk away or reject your argument if that is what they choose to do.
- Trust in the power of your mind
Trust that your subconscious mind will deliver the right words at the right time. Reinforce in your being the belief that your mind will deliver the right words at the right time. Meaning, if you are speaking without the aid of a written script (where something is read verbatim or word-for-word), like some do (others, like myself, prefer to just write down key words in logical progression to serve as reminders), avoid worrying about what you're going to say next. If you know your topic really well, your subconscious mind will produce the right words at the right time (especially if you went over the content of your speech many times prior to your presentation)...if you will only allow it... if you will only trust it.
But you must be in the right state for this to work effectively. You must be in a relaxed, confident, and "trusting" state. A state where you "just know" that the words will come. (Of course, it helps greatly if you are speaking about a topic you are passionate about.)
You must trust in your mind's ability to deliver. The more you do this, the more your mind will automatically deliver when you need it to. For some reason, the subconscious mind likes to be trusted. The more you trust it, the more it wants to be worthy of that trust. In other words, it will find ways to justify that you are right in trusting it. And if you don't trust it, it will also find ways to justify that you are right in not trusting it.
Actually, there may be times when your mind just goes blank (for a second or two), for some reason, and you don't remember the word/term you wish to use in a sentence. In a case like that, just stay relaxed and wait patiently. Just wait in a relaxed and expectant state... and eventually, the right word will come. (Whatever you do, avoid panicking. The more anxious you are, the harder it will be to remember the right word. Remember, the less you trust your mind, the less it will want to deliver.)
Besides, if you stay calm, most of the time, people won't even notice that there's something wrong. They'll think it was just a normal pause, or you did it on purpose for effect. In other words, the flow of your presentation will move smoothly without interruption. And you will continue to be perceived as being "in charge" of the situation.
Remember this: The more you trust your mind, the more it will deliver. And the more your mind delivers, the more confident you will become in speaking situations.
- Decide in advance to tell the truth no matter what.
Of course, this is nothing new. You already know that when you are telling the truth, you are much more relaxed or at ease. Why? Simply because what you say and what you believe to be true are in harmony. There's no conflict within.
Whereas, when you are lying, there's that voice inside of you saying, "What if they can see through me and sense my dishonesty?" Or, "What if I'm ever found out?" (In fact, just "planning" to lie already makes one anxious or tense.) In other words, it puts you in a disempowering or unresourceful state. And it negatively affects your performance. Worse, you will lose your audience's trust once they sense you are not telling the truth (they will somehow sense it, subconsciously). And when that happens, it will be all over. Once your credibility goes, everything else goes.
- Trust that you can handle whatever comes your way.
This must be one of the biggest and most important lessons I've learned about effective speaking/presenting. In fact, every great speaker/presenter does it, whether consciously or unconsciously.
If you'll only observe the most relaxed and effective speakers/presenters (ex. TV personalities or talk show hosts), you will find that they have this quality. They'll say or do the wrong things at times and they'll just simply laugh it off or make a joke out of it. And then they'll proceed as if nothing happened. They are able to consistently do this because they have simply learned to trust in their ability to handle whatever comes their way.
By mastering this principle, you can go very far as a speaker/presenter. In fact, if you happen to come short in other areas, but you have this quality, you'll be able to face any unexpected event with a sense of calm (while others would panic in the same situation). In fact, this does not only apply to speaking/presenting, but to life as a whole.
Basically, you are saying to yourself, "No matter what happens, I know I can handle it. If I make a mistake, so what? It's not the end of the world. Besides, I permit myself to make mistakes. I'll learn from this experience and move on." (Remember: The meaning of any event is the meaning you give it. Also, nothing has any power over you except the power you give it.)
Or you might say, "Whatever happens, I'll handle it. I've done it many times before, so I can do it again." (There must be numerous events in your life, in the past, wherein things did not turn out exactly as you expected--and I'm sure many of them were even events that made you feel devastated, hopeless, and helpless... as if it were the end of the world--but still you were able to eventually handle them.)
Again, master this principle... and you will go very far as a speaker/presenter. Above all, you will have the strength and courage to tackle anything in life.
(An excellent book that covers this principle more thoroughly is Susan Jeffers' best-selling book, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. I highly suggest that you go find a way to access it and read it. You'll benefit in many ways.)
- Apply the "I don't care" or "It doesn't matter" attitude.
Or, the "So what?" or "Whatever happens, happens" attitude. This is another very powerful principle and it's closely related to the previous one--Principle #14. In fact, don't take my word for it. Just like all the other principles in this article, apply it and discover just how powerful it is. And once you've benefited from it, use it more often. (Again, this principle applies to many situations in life and not only to speaking.)
Does this mean that you don't actually care about the outcome? Of course not. Otherwise, you wouldn't be wasting your time taking the steps leading to that desired outcome in the first place. Just like what we've covered in some of the previous sections (ex. Principle #12), it is the "state" that results from these principles that you are after.
Basically, once you've determined your desired outcome, let it go. Surrender it completely to God. Think of something else. You have no control over the outcome anyway, so just work on what you can control. In other words, if there are any thoughts that are trying to scare or hinder you, by giving you negative pictures of what could happen, because of your decision to pursue a certain idea, just say, "I don't care." (And "mean it"--like you really don't care.) Then immediately change focus.
What you are basically saying is, "I don't care if that happens. I can handle it." Or, "It doesn't matter. I can handle it." Or, "So what? I'll handle it anyway." Or, "Whatever happens, happens. I'll handle it anyway."
When you do this, you are basically telling the negative voice inside you, "Leave me alone. Stop wasting my time. You won't succeed in convincing me to stop pursuing what I want because I'm already certain that no matter what happens, I'll be able to handle it." Basically, you are refusing to give the negative voice any power over you.
Again, your main goal in all of this is to access an empowering state so you can be highly effective in the present moment. And this mental attitude or mindset will help you access that type of state.
- Speak as often as possible (while applying all the principles you've learned in this article).
Consciously seek ways to speak in front of others. Take advantage of every opportunity to express your thoughts to others (whether it be one-on-one or a group setting)--while applying the principles you've learned--and your confidence level will skyrocket. In fact, as time goes by, speaking in front of others will feel more and more comfortable and natural to you. With constant practice, you gain more mastery. And as you gain more mastery, your confidence grows.
- Act In Charge
Finally, this is a powerful lesson I've learned. It's a technique that can take your presentation skills to a much higher level. I can promise you that if you honestly apply what I'm about to share with you, your ability to speak in public will never be the same. (In fact, as you read what I'm about to tell you, I suggest you imagine some of your favorite speakers/presenters or TV talk show hosts. You'll notice that they're using this technique... either consciously or unconsciously.)
Basically, what you want to do is to train yourself to do the following: Every time you speak in public, or in front of a group, ACT IN CHARGE (even if you're not actually in charge). In other words, act the role of someone who's responsible for a group of other people (like a teacher is to a group of students... or like a preacher is to a group of worshippers)... even if there are people in the room with much higher authority or social status.
You must train yourself to always act the role of someone "in charge." And what I mean is, be someone who speaks and acts with authority and extreme confidence... someone who believes completely in what he/she is doing or saying... someone who gives directions or suggestions with authority... and so on.
You see, one of the biggest things that can affect your presentations (in a positive or negative way) is THE ROLE YOU DECIDE TO PLAY (OR ACT OUT). Let me explain it this way...
If you decide to play the role of the victim (meaning, you always perceive yourself as "prey" to an audience of hungry lions out to get you), then you will feel and behave accordingly. The discomfort you'll feel (or disempowering state you'll be in) will negatively affect your performance (which, in turn, will produce less than desirable results).
Put another way, if you decide to play the role of someone who's always worried about what the audience will think or say... then it will negatively affect your performance.
On the other hand, if you play the role of someone who feels and acts "in charge" (someone who truly believes that the audience accepts the fact that he/she is the one in charge)... then you'll naturally be more at ease.
(And remember, it has nothing to do with the audience's thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about you...or your presentation. Your being in charge, or your feeling of being in charge, is not dependent on those things. Or is not affected by those things. Meaning, even if certain members of the audience gave you a disapproving look...you'd still have the power of "choice"...you could still "choose" to continue to feel and act in charge. You don't have to automatically switch to "prey" or "victim" mode.)
Let me ask you something... How many teachers do you know who are nervous (or appear nervous) whenever they get up in front of the classroom to teach their students? I mean, if there are, it's probably a small number (besides, I don't think they'd last very long in the teaching profession if they constantly suffered from stage fright or performance anxiety, since their job requires them to stand in front of their students on a regular basis).
Now, the same can be said about preachers. You see, what teachers and preachers share in common is this: They're there to tell the audience "what they'd like the audience to hear" and not "what the audience actually wants to hear."
Their main goal is not to impress the audience (or to gain their approval) but to give them knowledge that will help make their lives better in some way... that will inspire or uplift them in some way... or that will give them a positive experience. In other words, they're on the "giving" or "sharing" end. Their focus is on "giving."
If you think about it, when you're teaching, you're really "giving" or "sharing" knowledge/insights. When you're proposing something, you're "giving" ideas or information that will allow the listeners to take advantage of a specific opportunity... something that can be beneficial to them and others (which may even include you).
When you're entertaining (for example, as a comedian), you're "giving" of your energy and talents in such a way that will benefit the audience (it will help get them out of boredom, or some other disempowering state, temporarily).
Now, it doesn't mean that you, as a speaker/presenter, are on the losing end - or will walk away with nothing - when your focus is more on "giving." Not at all. In fact, if you're focused on "giving," the intrinsic rewards will be great (you're not just making others feel good, you're making yourself feel good inside). You'll feel fulfilled. And whatever external rewards you'll get as a result will merely be icing on the cake. (I'm sure you've heard of the saying: It's more blessed to give than to receive. Well, it's true.)
(Tip: Do remember this important thing, and it's something I hinted on above: The key is to possess the same mindset or perspective whether your purpose is to persuade, entertain, or inform.)
Again, you must do your best to always act the part of someone who's in charge. Realize that "in charge" doesn't necessarily mean that you have to act like a dictator. It's more like having the mindset of a teacher excited to teach a class of eager students. More than anything, though, it's an attitude or mindset that says that you're in charge of yourself or your emotions... that you can handle anything that comes your way.
Of course, just like teachers and preachers, it's important to first be convinced of the fact that you have something valuable to offer to others. Because when you're convinced of that fact, you'll be more confident and at ease in front of others.
When you "decide" to act the role/part of someone IN CHARGE, you'll feel differently and act differently. And because you'll move, speak, and act with authority, conviction, and extreme confidence, the audience will become more receptive and responsive to you. They'll be more motivated to follow your lead.
So, again, understand (and always keep in mind) that it's all about THE ROLE YOU DECIDE TO PLAY (OR ACT OUT). When you put yourself in a certain role... an empowering role... other factors (your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) follow... which naturally leads to different results.
So go ahead, then, and use this powerful technique whenever you speak/present to an audience. You'll be amazed at how much more impact your speeches or presentations will have.
Ron Balagot produces the Confience Tips Blog.
"Confidence is crucial to success and achievement. Far too many lack that ingredient to the degree needed. Ron's ebook gives sound advice and uncomplicated ways to get confidence when it is needed. I have used many of these principles throughout my stellar career as a speaker and best selling author and they work. Read it now and trust that you, too, can be confident in any situation because you prepared with the tips taught in this ebook." --Jack M. Zufelt, author of The DNA of Success www.dnaofsuccess.com