About a year ago, something shifted in my consciousness and I became aware of how good I could feel if I concentrated on good posture. I remember the moment, standing in line at the grocery store. I was tired and felt a little run-down. I consciously straightened my spine, rolled my shoulders back, stretched my neck a little, and then relaxed in my new, “chin-up” position. I felt better immediately, and I’d like to ask you to do the same right now, and then return to reading this article.
Feel better? As it turns out, Edgar Cayce would have predicted that you would. And so would Dr. Harold J. Reilly, author of The Edgar Cayce Handbook for Health Through Drugless Therapy. Many people asked Cayce about their posture, and he also brought it up independent of questioning. Imagine if he were giving readings today, in a world that is so much more sedentary in nature than his and Reilly’s time? What would be Cayce’s message about posture, and what would it be to you today?
Cayce’s Three-Point Posture Plan. Researching Cayce’s readings and referencing Harold Reilly’s work, I have concluded that Cayce would make three suggestions to all of us regarding our posture. (1) Be conscious of standing and sitting with good posture. (2) Exercise in the morning and evening. (3) Get spinal adjustments and massages regularly.
Often people get very nervous in front of an audience and forget what a natural eye contact is. They either look very quickly at the audience or they try to see the audience as ‘one big eye’ and try to look at everyone at the same time. Or they just forget all together that there is an audience and feel better looking everywhere but the audience. Above you find some great advice what to do. Lee Glickstein had a problem with stage fright when he did his first presentations and he discovered that when you look at people in a one on one relationship, it gets so much easier. And he is right. If you have a small audience, just look at everyone as if they are your friends. And you really look at them and really talk to them !
What’s the difference between body disposition and body language? “Body Language” is what we observe in someone else. For instance, I might “assume” that you’re angry or defensive when you sit across from me with your arms crossed. Or, I might “assume” that you’re arrogant if you speak with me with your hands on your hips. There are numerous “body language” assessments that have us “guessing” at another persons mood or emotion. When, in fact, they’re nothing more than a guess. A suggestion is, to look at your “own” body disposition – in other words – how are you “holding” your own body. How do you feel when you’re in that stance/posture? What is evoked in you from there? Are you comfortable, are you angry, holding back, defensive – what? Knowing your own body disposition and practicing different ways in which to stand, sit, breath, etc. allows for the possibility to “shift” our mood or emotion at any given time. We don’t “show up” without an emotion. We’re always in one. Recent studies suggest that our emotions generate our thoughts. In working with executives in organizations, having them breath (take a deep, deliberate breath) allows for individuals to shift their current posture – which, in turn, shifts their mood or emotion. In meetings (or anywhere else, for that matter) where there is tension or emotions are running high, it is valuable to be able to shift a mood or emotion that will allow for a more reasonable conversation. If we look to ourselves to determine our posture when we’re making a point – can we listen from there? Conversely, if we’re laid-back and relaxed, how easy is it to be adamant about our point of view? Practicing how we stand, sit, relaxed or stressed, can open new doors to ways in which we’re able to communicate with one another.
August 24th 2007 I read an article in the Conference Special of Management Team. And I quote : ‘Twenty years of PowerPoint is no reason to party. Even Robert Gaskins, the creator of the program, had an ambivalent feeling on that birthday. Lots of business people have stopped writing reports. They merely write presentations which are no more than summories without the context…’ .These were Gaskins’ words in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. And who would want to contradict the man who invented the program ?
I was so thrilled to see that a youtube movie of Garr Reynolds was available. A couple of years ago I discovered his presentation blog ‘presentation zen’ and I loved it as so many people do. I think what he writes about the topic, especially about the use of slides, is great stuff. Now I was curious to see him present…I must admit I was somewhat dissapointed about his start because he put himself down as a presenter saying it was nearly lunchtime. And on top of that he announced that his presentation was going to be 45 minutes which is way too long for me. The maximum for a presentation for me is 30 minutes. What he masters tremendously well though is how to interact with the audience. He does it constantly and it is a great way to keep on attracting the attention of the audience. In my opinion he uses a lot of slides, too much, however the slides that he shows are simply great and I stress the word ‘simply’ !
I had a coaching today with a manager and I am going to share an example with you how you can attract the attention of the audience…I asked the participant to present to me the first part of his presentation, something like the first 3 minutes. Meanwhile I carefully listened to his first sentences because these will (or will not) attract the attention. He started as so many presenters do saying ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to…So, in the next overview I will present to you…’ For me, this is not the most attractive way to open a presentation. I advice you to make it interesting from the very first minute, from your very first sentence, and to avoid any clicés. How can you do that ? Tell a story ! Everyone is interested in listening to stories. Of course you won’t tell just whatever, there has to be a relationship to your topic. The advice I gave to my participant was to start with a story, or a quote or an article in a newspaper, it can be anything…The trick is of course that you have to link it. For some stories the link is obvious. But when you come to think of it, you can actually link nearly everything because if you start with a story (a memory from your childhood for example) it might seem difficult at first sight to link that to your topic. However, a nice way of linking is saying what you learned from that experience, and why you told that story. Automatically you will be able to switch to your subject. I must say that after this theory, he was not eager to tell a story and felt reluctant to put it into practise. Now what did he make of it ?…
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Who saw the movie ‘Back to the future’ (he raised his hand to set the example…). I see that quite some people saw that movie. Now, one of the main characters, Michael J. Fox, went back to the fifties in order to change his future. Now I’m not going to take you back as long as the fifties. My objective with this presentation is to take you back to 2007 to see what we have experienced and what we have learned. And above all how we can implement that next year.
And the great part was that he absolutely loved it. It sounded good and it felt good. I thought he did a great job and he was convinced that this could work…
Mike Aguilera is a communication expert and gives a few tips on how to deal with stagefright. What I mainly get out of this conversation is : the strenght of preparation, and the importance of a positive internal dialogue.
Neil Lazarus talks in his video below how to introduce and end a presentation. In the introduction you ideally answer questions like ‘what is the objective of the presentation’ and ‘why is it important for the audience to listen to that presentation’. In other words ‘what’s in it for the audience ?’… Apart from the opening I advise everyone to think clearly about their last sentence. This is a sentence you will adress to the audience AFTER the questions to complete your presentation without having to say ‘thank you for your attention’. What I like to say at the end of my lecture is this ‘if there is ONE thing I want you to remember from this presentation, it is….’ (and then I say something I think was extremely important for them to remember). Neil Lazarus demonstrates this in a very nice way. Now, I don’t like his body language that much, but it is the content that is interesting…
I started giving training and coaching in 2000. Some weeks before the training I always ask participants what they want to get out of the training. After all these years my training has changed, however the expectations of participants did not change at all. They wanted advice on how to attract and hold the attention of the audience, some were interested to know how to deal with stage fright (mainly women) and most of them wanted advice what to do with their arms when facing an audience. They wanted that 9 years ago and they still do. Working as a newsanchor for television and especially coaching young people who were trained to become a newsanchor learned me a lot about body language. The more I coached these people how to sit in front of the camera the less natural it looked. It was much more effective when I coached them to focus on the text, and to ‘feel’ the text. They had to feel what they said, not just read from an autocue. And the better they succeeded in doing that, the more natural they looked. I started experimenting with that for my training presentation skills as well. And I observed the same thing. The quicker the presenter got really into the story, talking with passion and enthusiasm, the more natural it looked. When you talk to a friend you meet in the street you don’t think ‘how do I have to stand here, what do I do with my arms…’, you just talk. But the weird thing is, when we get on that stage and face an audience, it is as if we forgot all about our natural body language. My advice to you is this, if it makes you feel more comfortable, take something in your hand but make sure it is something useful (as a remote controle) and start your presentation with a story. The idea is this, when you start with a story you attract the attention from the beginning and it enables you to be enthusiastic from the very first minute. And enthusiasm equals natural body language. Just practise in a mirror and you will see it works !
This is a great example in many ways. The presenter talks about how she dealt with stagefright and the same time it is a great example of a very nice presentation. Look how she smiles throughout the presentation…She gives examples, great to do in a presentation, in fact her whole presentation is one long story. Attention of the audience assured. She looks at her notes from time to time and that is OK, there are pauzes from time to time and that is OK. She captures the attention with her enthusiasm and that is the strenght of this presentation.