Thirty minutes into a challenging indoor cycling class when I was “seeing Elvis,” the instructor said, “If you have anything left in the tank, turn the tension up one more time.” At that moment I had an epiphany: the human body is capable of much more than the mind allows. Once we push past the mental barrier that yells, “I can’t! It’s too hard!,” we find that we are stronger, smarter, and open to new possibilities. Medal-winning athletes know this, and so do successful speakers.
When you are about to stand up and speak, what’s going through your mind? Odds are it’s something like, “Let me just get through this without embarrassment,” or “Please don’t let me trip on the electrical cord.” Chances are that you are not thinking, “I can’t wait to take a risk and really put myself out there.”
This blog post is an invitation to let your body move past the limits that your mind imposes. If you want to really impress your audience and leave them with a pleasant aftertaste, consider incorporating one of these physical techniques:
- Change your volume. If you are naturally on the church mouse end of the continuum, try speaking much louder. If your style is closer to the carnival barker, try softening your voice. Notice what it does to the rest of your delivery.
- Sing loudly right before you present. You will be more energized and relaxed when you begin your presentation.
- Make a sound effect where you would normally use an adjective. Go from bland to “Now that got my attention!”
- Step away from the lectern. It’s a crutch. Try speaking in the “magic circle” – that space front and center of the room. Your audience will thank you.
- Break the wall. Most speakers deliver their presentation at a “professional” distance from their audience. Try moving closer into the personal space for an important point and then move back.
Break the mental barrier that keeps us stuck in the safe-and-average shallow end and move into the risky-and-fabulous deep end of the pool! Your body should be in the lead role, not your mind.