What’s in your head when you’re on stage?
Are you focused on connecting with your audience and building rapport . . . or . . . are you so consciously aware of everything you’re doing you have an internal dialogue raging in your right ear?
(blah, blah, blah!)
If you’ve done a number of presentations, you will have had the experience of delivering your well-designed “speech” to a few different crowds.
But one thing I have noticed with speakers time and time again is that when they are actually on stage, sometimes their focus is on the wrong place.
• “I stood still most of the time like you say Jo, but at one point I thought I should move around a bit so I did.”
• “When I was building the need I know I said it all wrong and it threw me for the rest of the close.”
• “I didn’t think I was going to remember the questions, but I asked about 4 questions in first 2 minutes is that enough?
What’s Wrong Here?
On the one hand, it is great that people have awareness about what’s happening on the stage. The problem with these speakers was that with further questioning I discovered that while on stage, MOST OF THE TIME they were thinking about what they were doing, and whether they were doing it right!
While you’re busy focusing on whether you’ve asked enough questions, or changed state enough or built enough need, or been clear enough- you are stuck in your head. While you’re stuck in your head you are not doing the one thing that you should do on stage and that is:
Connect With Your Audience!
That is your single biggest and most important job once you get on stage. All you should be focusing on is connecting with them and taking them on a great journey.
Practice Makes Perfect
This is why practice is so important.
When you repeat things and practice things over and over you’ll get them embodied in your unconscious mind so that by the time you are on stage it is a habit. You should not be consciously thinking “I need to cross my arms now” on stage. If you are, you have forgotten your primary purpose for being on the stage.
So here’s how to prepare for your presentations:
Write out your script. It doesn’t have to be word for word ( I never write word for word scripts) but it should have all of the key points you are going to make.
Then practice it.
In fact don’t just practice it once. Practice it several times focusing on different elements each time:
1. Practice for timing
2. Practice for energy management
3. Practice for stage use
4. Practice for sensory based language
5. Practice by taking everything over the top, much bigger than you imagine it should be.
And then pretend you never did any of that. Because you are already perfect, aren’t you?
So on the day of your actual presentation forget about all your practice, and get yourself in the right mindset to connect with your audience. Remember, it’s all about connection. That’s all.
As soon as you hit that platform, focus on being present and connecting with every person in the crowd, and authentically taking them on a journey. Find the yummy moments!
Blah, Blah, Blah. . . . Now It’s Your Turn!
So, this week, forget about getting it ‘right’ on stage. Focus instead on practicing your presentation and then when you’re up there, forget all of this and instead build your connection. And then write in here and tell me about the results…
Straight to the point as always! Thanks Joanna
I have done about 14 presentations now, and each time I really enjoy myself, in spite of the voices. I am passionate about my topic – be it spinning or Antarctica – and the audience will either enjoy it, or not.. I go by the feedback at the end of the session. If people are impresed, they will tell you. That is how I judge my “performance”. Then I add in the voices afterwards.
Thank you for another awesome blog post Joanna! Very timely as I have my first full day presentation on Wednesday! 🙂
Great! The perfect solution for a very common problem… !
Nice post. I especially like your suggestion to practice, practice, practice. Couple this practice with ‘a passion for your topic’ and anyone will be well on their way to success.
Given your views of the “one thing you should do on stage”, I would have liked to hear more about ‘connecting with the audience.’ So I am left with a couple of questions:
Is it your contention the five items you listed (timing, energy management, stage use, sensory based language, taking everything over the top) are the keys to connecting with the audience?
How does the dynamic of ‘connecting with the audience’ change (or does it?) when the audience numbers in the hundreds vs. 30 – 50 people?
Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist