- Posted: October 2014
- By: Michael Carroll
Love Public Speaking
Have you been curious about how you could improve your public speaking skills to be really engaging in front of audiences? I am writing this article on the penultimate day of the 2014 NLP Academy Trainers Training which was held in Murcia Spain. I have been teaching this course with John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair for nine years and it is known as the world leader for creating highly skilled NLP Trainers. The first module zone in on how to use NLP to engage audiences in public speaking contexts. The module is also a stand-alone six day course called ‘Love Public Speaking’. In this article I will share with you some of the NLP applications for public speaking skills
If you have fear or any other unresourceful state, the audience will detect it at an unconscious level and act accordingly. Your message will be either weakened if your state is not resourceful and on the other hand strengthened if your state is resourceful. So state is an essential element when giving presentations. In Classic NLP trainers talk about ‘state control’. Even in modern NLP state control is a message NLP trainers sell to their students. Control is the conscious mind, it’s will power. As any well trained NLP Practitioner will tell you, the conscious mind likes control. Given a state is in the whole body, the will of the conscious mind is unlikely to be able to control anything for the long period, and if it did the consequences are likely to not be very healthy as it presupposes conscious mind superiority and this a mind body split.
In the New Code of NLP we like to think in terms of choice and not control. Everybody can have choice with their state without using control. The question with public speaking is what is the best state choice for public speaking? Some presenters might prefer a more energetic style and others a more relaxed, some like to vary having access to a plethora of states to engage their audience. I propose all presenters have a baseline state marked with a specific physiology to begin their presentation. The baseline includes peripheral vision for calibration, a level breathing rhythm and a posture that communicates leadership.
There are many NLP patterns that can achieve the above. On the Love Pubic Speaking course, I work with the ‘Breath of Life Pattern’ from New Code NLP, to ensure the presenting space is clear and resourceful, for group calibration I add series of peripheral vision drills. These exercises create ‘presence’ for the speaker. In fact I call the state that engages ‘the presenting presence state’
Calibration and Rapport
Rapport is obviously an important aspect when delivering presentations. Creating rapport with a group of people is different than on a one to one basis. I think the NLP definition of rapport ‘unconscious responsiveness’ is really apt in groups. The ideal situation for the presenter is to engage the audience at the unconscious level so they are ensured the message is received uncritically. There are many ways to this, one way is to look for the informal or unconscious leaders in the group and mirror them until you have responsiveness. This is where your calibration skills are needed to detect who is following who in the sub groups
Another way to create responsiveness is to create a group activity which you lead and others follow. Simple breathing and stretching exercises may seem like ice breakers or ways to shift state, they are also very effective pacing and leading drills.
Sensory based language
Most verbs in the English language are unspecified in terms of not being connected to specific representational system. This can make a presentation sound quite vague or even boring. We have in NLP representational systems that are reflection on the senses. The visual, auditory & kinaesthetic systems are present in the input channels and processing channels. When a presenter engages using multiple representational systems at the input level, he/she is influencing how the person is experiencing the world at the primary level. When the presenter is using sensory based language to help at the processing level, he/she is influencing how the recipient organises and recalls what has been inputted.
Gregory Bateson, a mentor figure to the NLP co-creators, wrote about the importance of double description. John Grinder extended this notion to triple description. The model of triple description is an effective tool in public speaking.
First position - self, engaged, and centred with kinaesthetic of presenting presence space.
Second position – other, experience the world through the eyes and ears of your group members. In this position you find out what you look and sound like. This is useful for calibration and empathy, there is no need to overdo second, just shift your perception for a few moments at a time.
Third observer - This is where you take the perception of an observer. You see/hear your presentation from the outside and the effect you are having on the audience. It is good to go to third after second and provide self any relevant feedback. When you become proficient in third, you are proficient in self coaching.
By being able to shift perceptions you are flexible to learn and update your presentation. Add in a VAK description of each perceptual position and you are really providing yourself with a strong reference point to engage audiences.
There is a lot more to learn which goes beyond the scope of this article, such as formatting your presentation, use of metaphor, tonal and spatial anchoring, hypnotic language, and non verbal influence. These are topics that are best learned through experience and direct feedback. For now I suggest work on your breathing and peripheral vision to create a powerful presenting space, calibrate/pace and lead informal leaders, look for ways in how you can take the lead through exercises etc, and use triple position to ensure you are centred when presenting, can see/hear the audiences perspective and can give self feedback for development.