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Whenever I run a presenting course, I will get one or two people who are tied up in knots about their bodies and their physicality.
Am I gesturing too much? Too little? Do I need to move my arms every seven seconds, and when do I shift from one side of the podium to the other?
Physicality is a big part of presenting – but not for the reasons you think. And it’s less to do with gesturing as it is with accessing your inner fire.
No one mumbles when they have something to say
For most of us, our ‘connection’ voice – our everyday voice – is more than fine. It’ll take care of you 19 out of 20 working days a month. But when you need to access your presenting voice on those other occasions, you need to know how to find it – and the fire within.
Accessing your strong inner physicality is one way to unlock your presenting potential. And yes, we all have a strong physicality. It’s up to us whether we access it, that’s all.
Even people who consider themselves monotonous or quiet of voice will find their strength if they see their toddler running towards a busy road. The struggle, usually, is in accessing it for a presentation – and that’s often because of nerves, lack of preparation, or difficulty owning who you are so you can present authentically.
So how do we access the inner fire?
One of my favourite ways to achieve this with participants is a quick pushing exercise.
Here's how it works.
I’ll get them to deliver a short part of their presentation or speech three times.
The first time is 'normally' – and they often come across sounding reluctant and shy. They’re not going to convince anyone of anything. And the audience can usually tell!
The second time, I’ll get them to push their hands against mine while I try to gently push them over. They’ll fight and fight – and at the same time, will find themselves presenting from their core muscles, with a strength in their voice.
The third time - only seconds later - I’ll get them to re-present, in the same conditions as the first time, but the difference is immediate. They’ll be louder, clearer, and more compelling. Their gesture will be more organic.There’ll be a robustness and conviction in their voices – and with that, their message suddenly becomes more compelling. And their audience will thank them for it too!
Focus on your content
Physicality definitely helps with presenting, but rather than getting caught in knots about shaping your voice, the rate of jokes you use or whether you need to be pacing the stage, instead lead with your content.
If you’re confident about your content – you know your material and what you want your audience to feel – then you will naturally be more present and engaging. Even better if you can care about your topic enough to bring a bit of fight for it.
My advice? Know your content, prepare well, and own who you are. Get that together, and you’ll have no problems accessing your inner fire.
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