the inspiration blog

Posts Tagged ‘presence

I’m in Boulder, Colorado for a week, where I’m starting development of a new one-man show. I did one of my graduate degrees here at Naropa University, and returned  to work with an old friend and collaborator. It’s my first new solo theatre piece in a good while… and so exciting to be diving back in!

At the same time, it’s also scary and intimidating. I always take on topics where I don’t have all of the answers. My last show was about Jewish identity, and my new show is about being a man. Pretty big topics, which can become quite overwhelming.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed whenever we’re doing something new – because we don’t know the twists and turns of the path. When we’re still trying to figure it all out, we can feel swept away or off-course. And it’s hard to see the destination when we’re mid-river. When we don’t know how we’ll get there, it’s easy to hesitate, question what we’re doing, and procrastinate… or even give up out of self-doubt.

The fact is, if we’re doing something new, we seldom have a map of how to get to our destination. At best, we can follow others’ advice or strategies; yet, we have to take the journey ourselves, and make it our own. This is true with our businesses, and our lives – whenever we set a new goal, it’s always an adventure – which sometimes feels like stumbling around in the dark. Yet, there’s always a flow to it.

This is also true with public speaking. Even if you’re giving the same signature talk for the umpteenth time, every time you do it is different. Your audience is different… the room or surroundings likely change… and current events have shifted. In sum, the energy will be unique every time. 

Which is why it’s essential to be present. (Tangential reminder, if you haven’t heard me say it before: presence is the art of being fully present.) If we’re present, and open, and listening, we can feel what’s needed next. You might slightly change how you word what you say… or you could change the delivery. If you’re tuned in, and going with the flow, it gets easy. If you resist and try to force things, you may drown; but if you let go, the river will take you where you want to go.

Going with the flow means trusting you can handle anything that happens. In other words, you don’t need to have any fear or nervousness, because you know you can deal with whatever arises. 

Whether in regards to a speaking engagement, with our businesses, or in other areas of life, things seldom go just as we plan or as we expect. But in that moment when the river changes course, we can listen inwardly, look outside to what is going on, and tap in… and we can do what that moment needs.

For speaking, of course, a fair amount of preparation is needed. It’s essential to have a wide toolset to draw upon, so that you can adeptly handle anything that happens. And it takes skills and practice… which is what WholeSpeak coaching and workshops are for. Stay tuned for announcements of some powerful workshops happening this year.

When times are challenging, what do you do to get back in the flow? Please leave a comment and share.

I’ve talked a lot recently about the fear of speaking, because it holds so many people back from speaking their truth – as well as from using speaking to easily get clients. However, for many, there’s a bigger problem:

Confidence.

Why in the world should confidence be a problem?

To be honest (which I always am – it’s my M.O. – but I’ve never addressed this before), I’ve never loved the term. Yes, this is true even though “confidence” is in the subtitle of my upcoming training and I talk about it a lot. Why? Because for many, it is about the ego. For example, I’ve heard many coaches declare, “You just gotta be confident!”… as if implying that confidence is easy, or that it can be somehow pasted on. Often, confidence is forced or misguided. When confidence isn’t 100% real, your nonverbal communication looks forced and pushes people away. 

This is different than true confidence – which is completely relaxed – even humble, because you don’t need to prove anything to anyone… including yourself. It’s largely a reflection of being present,  centered, and being able to deal with anything.

And while you can fake confidence, what cannot be forced is presence… and self-acceptance… and deep connection with an audience.

Here’s the biggest problem with confidence, though:

When we’re confident, it’s easy to think we know everything.

And no one knows everything. In my 17 years of coaching public speaking, I’ve never seen a single speaker, be it live or on YouTube, who couldn’t improve. 

Every day, I see confident speakers making basic mistakes – ones that can be easily rectified.

Here are the biggest problems that confident speakers and networkers have:

  • Not authentically connecting with the audience. And if they don’t connect with you, they won’t be moved to work with you.
  • Mistaking loud volume for being a dynamic speaker. I focus with clients on 6 primary vocal dynamics, 4 advanced speaking styles, and powerful ways to use gestures, facial expressions and body language. Most speakers don’t even get close to exploring their full range.
  • Not being grounded, centered and totally relaxed. This is part of what creates presence – and it’s hard to be centered when speaking, which is a heightened experience! This takes practice, technique, and a fantastic warm-up routine to help you get “in the zone.”
  • Not realizing that speaking in front of larger groups, and other high stakes situations like selling from the stage, can cause you to lose your confidence. We all need methods to become more relaxed and centered, when on a growing edge.
  • Skipping public speaking essentials. Can I tell you how often I see confident speakers betraying themselves by using ineffective body language, a plethora of “ums” and more? Far more than I’d like. Oy vey.

The strength of people without confidence is that they realize they need to learn. And who doesn’t need to grow?  For yourself – and to grow your business?

If you haven’t seen it, I’d like to invite you to check out my free video training on speaking with confidence and presence, at http://www.yourtruevoice.org.

And I  also invite you to my 10-week online program: Claim Your Voice: Speak with Power and Presence. Details and Registration: http://ClaimYourVoiceNow.com

If you consider yourself a confident speaker, in Claim Your Voice you’ll also learn how to get more comfortable when selling from the stage and other high-stakes situations. And learn a ton of other skills – read my article on The Public Speaking Must-Haves.

In any case, here’s the deal with confidence… it’s pretty much 3 things: getting the skills you need,  relaxing/centering, and trusting your capacity to handle anything that happens.

Which of these is your next step?

–Jonathan Bender, MS, MFA, WholeSpeak  – http://www.WholeSpeak.com

Right now, this is what happening.

The feelings you are having are the feelings you are having. They are not the feelings you wish you were having.
Where you are sitting is the place you are sitting. It is not the ideal place you wish you were.
What you are thinking is… what you’re thinking. It’s not the idealized thoughts you wish you had right now.
Your body is your body. But it is not permanent – and it’s just the shape it’s in right now.
Who you are with (or without)  is, yes, the person you are with(out).

This is your experience. Let go of any illusion that things are any different than they are now.
And, unless you choose to do something different, these things will continue to be the same.
Or, you could choose to change something.
So. What do you choose to accept – and what would you like to change?

Action: Make a list of things in your life with which you struggle. Identify what you’d like to more fully accept and embrace, and which you’d like to shift. And make a plan.


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