We start from the inside out, not the outside in. What you do with your hands, how you stand, how you sound, whether or not you jangle your change in your pocket are merely external effects, or symptoms of a much deeper cause. Like any good doctor, we need to find the root cause of your external symptoms. Only then can we go about finding the right remedy- the right course of rehabilitation- the right medication. I hesitate to continue the analogy, as it’s perhaps unhelpful to think of your difficulties presenting as symptomatic of any great ailment- but you get the point!
Equally, whilst The Speakers’ Gym™ is never about merely stopping bad habits, it’s not just about creating positive effects. Both of these approaches are entirely focused on the external. They’re also entirely focused on you. A presenter that uses all of their energy to stop their bad habits and create certain positive effects has very little space or energy left for connecting with their audience. Yet, surely the audience is the very reason that you are presenting in the first place. It’s their time. Not your time.
To clarify: Person A has a habit of shuffling their feet, they say “ummm, and errr” a lot, and scratch their head. They book themselves onto a Presentation Skills course. They want to stop those “bad habits” and come across as confident, project their voice more, and entertain their audience, somewhat. Without spending time to work out the cause of the “bad habits”, and conversely, the cause of the positive effects, you play a dangerous game. At most, you get a presenter that now, plants their feet firmly, replaces “ummm and errr” with silence, and has no nervous ticks. They now have fairly confident body language, you can hear them loud and clear, and they crack a few jokes to “entertain.” However, the amount of attention and energy exerted to do, and stop doing these things is huge. The presentation may appear, at least externally, more polished, but with all that focus on themselves- and that’s a LOT of focus- how do they connect with, build trust, and inspire their audience? They simply can’t. Sorry Person A.
I revert to the Trust Equation:
Any presenter that focuses on ridding themselves of bad habits and creating positive effects massively increases their level of self-orientation, and reduces the space to create intimacy with their audience. The result is that you’re far less able to build trust. This is massive.
We live in a world that demands quick results. It’s so tempting to skip the process and go straight after the outcome. In the short run, it may feel like you’re saving time. However, without the process, the results won’t stand up to the test of time. At The Speakers’ Gym™ we look to create deeper, lasting change, by spending a little more quality time on the process. We don’t just put a plaster on things.
Take Person A, again. By working on the externals, like above, you don’t fix any problems. The chances are that by stopping one nervous tick, they develop another. Person A was not born, pre-disposed to scratching their head every couple of seconds. Neither were they born with a propensity for saying “ummm and “errr.” Both of these are symptoms of a deeper cause. Does Person A do these things in an environment when they feel completely relaxed, confident and passionate? Of course they don’t. So what is it about the environment of delivering a formal presentation that brings out these habits? Well, perhaps they’re nervous; feel uncomfortable; or feel uncertain about their material. Now, these are issues that we can work on positively. The causes are different for every individual, but by identifying them, and working on them, you have a much greater chance of fixing “bad habits” and creating positive effects, without it being detrimental to your audience connection. In fact, so often, we find that by strengthening the focus on the audience, one is liberated from self-consciousness. The positive effects are created and the “bad habits” vanish without them having to actually think about them at all.
To Clarify (These are just potential causes and remedies)
Person A (Sample):
Habits: Shuffling feet, scratching head
Cause: Feel uncomfortable
Remedies: breathing exercises in advance to calm nerves; making non-threatening eye contact with the audience to lower the sense of fight, freeze or flight and create intimacy
Habit: Ummm, Errr
Cause: Lack of clarity over the material
Remedy: Spend some time really connecting to the purpose of your presentation and how you need to affect your audience.
Both of the sample remedies are very audience focused and free Person A from their own hang-ups.
We believe that everybody deserves to feel brilliant, every day at work- happy, confident, challenged, supported and motivated- connecting with each other and clients in a way that is authentic and inspires. You don’t achieve this by getting everyone to turn in on themselves, focusing on their flaws and how to stop them. Equally, you don’t get very far by seeking to imitate the positive effects created by others. By going a little deeper to identify the root cause of one’s discomfort or “flaws”, you’ll fix them through focusing on something far more positive, and feeling brilliant as you do so.