- Posted: July 2017
- By: Michael Carroll
High Performance Public Speaking
Some people find public speaking a chore, others have an abject fear for it and for a few it comes naturally. The people who find public speaking a natural skill are certainly in the minority with the majority of people struggling with at different levels with presenting. The good news is anyone can learn to be a first class presenter; it begins with state choice, and then how to use body language and tonality to engage your audience.
There are ways to structure your content to make it interesting and easy for your audience to remember. In this article I will outline the essential ingredient for high performance in presentations and that is state choice.
As a public speaker your state choice is crucial to your performance. If you have fear or anxiety your message will not be transmitted effectively, the audience will sense your fear which can create heckling from members of the audience. Additionally with fear the experience is not enjoyable for you. The common link between skilled public speakers is they are at ease with themselves in front of their audience.
So the question you may be asking is ‘how do I develop state choice’ when presenting?
State choice, means just as it reads, you have choice with your state, you can be calm, relaxed, neutral, motivated, creative- what ever you choose. With state choice you have access to the full plethora of states. Fear is the reverse, there is no choice. When a person has fear in the presenting context, a ‘fight or flight’ response occurs.
Flight is not a realistic option no matter how difficult the situation, so in the modern day people replace flight with avoidance. The ones who fight, are fighting fear as they present, doing their best not to let the audience see the shaking hands or hear the tremor in their voice, there is no state choice when fear is present, the noradrenalin (the hormone of fear) is pumping through your body.
In New Code NLP we have a format called the ‘Chain of Excellence’ It’s simple physiological system that influences states. It goes like this
Breathing———Physiology————- State—————- Performance
A first class presenter will have all elements in the chain in place naturally. Their performance will include state choice, which includes optimal physiology and breathing rhythms, so they are capable of delivering a high performance presentation without thinking about their state. For people who have state challenges with public speaking, I suggest the begin at the first link in the chain and anchor a breathing rhythm to the presentation space which will influence physiology, state and performance. There is simple but effective New Code NLP pattern called the breath of life, which will help you do this.
Breath of Life – (self-application version)
1 - Imagine you are giving a presentation, see and hear the audience and be aware of what you are feeling, notice how you are breathing.
2 - Step out the space, and move to a position 2 metres away.
Shake off the feelings you experienced in step 1.
In this space you will see and hear yourself giving the presentation, in the space where you were standing in step 1 and will have neutral sensations.
3 - Identify a breathing rhythm that will provide you with a baseline state for presenting .
There are 2 suggestions below.
Firstly release all tension from our body.
Breathing rhythm 1
Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for the same amount of time as the in breath, exhale for the same count through your mouth, and hold your breath for the same count. (repeat)
Breathing rhythm 2
Breath in through your nose quickly, hold for a short time and exhale through your mouth for twice as long as your breathing in rhythm
I suggest you test both of the breathing rhythms above to discover which one works best for you, different people have different preferences.
Or you can use another breathing rhythm of your choice, the target state you aiming for is a state which is relaxed and alert.
4 - From then space 2 metres away access the breathing rhythm of your choice whilst you are seeing and hearing yourself present in the space identified in step 1.
Make sure you have no tension in your body. Slowly walk towards the presentation space with the breathing rhythm activated.
If you feel any of the sensations you experienced in step 1, step back and reconnect with your breathing rhythm.
5 - Step into the presentation space maintaining the breathing rhythm, relaxed physiology and state.
The state you are in will now be anchored to presentations rubbing out the old sate. Some people need to repeat the above a couple of times
6 - Step out the presentation space , review your performance and if need be make adjustments to posture and breathing do so, step back in and test.
The above works best with a coach, so if you can find someone to guide you through the process you don’t have self calibrate.
Above is a video of a live ‘Breath of Life’ demonstration I conducted with a participant at an NLP Academy Trainers Training.
The Breath of Life Pattern creates an excellent baseline, anxiety free state for public speaking.
From the baseline state you can enter any state you have access to for example, motivation, creativity, confidence, calmness and so on. Once you have conquered state with public speaking the rest is easy to learn. In future articles, I will give tips on posture, tonality and structure, in the mean time, enjoy your state choice.