7 Ways To Boost Your Presentation Skills
A little hint before we get started: Embodiment is key! Always.
And so it is in this exciting endeavor: to really reach and touch an audience with your valuable content.
I’m not gonna lie to you: 10 years ago speaking in front of a group was one of my legit worst nightmares and I tried to avoid it at all costs. Especially in the context of group discussions, I tended to totally freeze. My mind went totally blank and I felt like I was the dumbest person in the room. I tensed up in my body which caused an instant headache… which of course did not at all serve the situation any better.
Doing the Inner Work around my shadows and wounded parts, taking the chances to be “on stage” and having the experience that I survived over and over again (because that is what it is coming down to on the animalistic level of stress in our body/mind systems: our system takes it as life or death situations), Vipassana meditation, cultivating self-love, and working on having empowered, mature relationships towards all my feelings and emotions, is what shifted my attitude towards speaking and presenting, how I can hold myself in these situation, how focused I am, and how I am able to take up space tremendously.
Whenever I speak of “on stage” I mean not only literally being on a stage to perform but also to take up space in a group of people or in front of an audience and express yourself and your content in an empowering way that also reaches the audience.
While a lot of the above mentioned suggestions might take some time (because it is working on the roots of your system), and your presentation might be just in a few days or even today, I will let you in on my 7 ultimate secrets for upgrading your presentations skills almost instantly.
1. Shake your booty
In the preparation for the presentation and in the minutes before your grand appearance one of the most important things is to not get stuck but stay in flow. As long as things are moving, all is good.
So whenever you start to feel too much stress or you feel stuck: start to move your body! Take a break from whatever you are doing at that moment and shake your booty. A few minutes, sometimes a few seconds of movement are enough to shift your energy and to keep it flowing. I promise! Now, it doesn’t have to be shaking your booty, if you’re not feeling it. Although please give it a try if you haven’t done it in a long time.
And here are some more ways you can get moving and in the flow easily:
- Put on an uplifting, empowering song and dance through the song like nobody’s watching.
- Set the alarm for 3 minutes and start to shake your body. If you are listening deeply, your body and/or the energy will shake you. Just go with the impulses you perceive. And stay curious what happens. Even if you are shaking your body consciously, it will do the trick we want. When shaking consciously try to not get too much or too long in a certain rhythm or pattern. Explore new ways and rhythms and patterns of moving and shaking.
- Take a 10 minute walk outside. While walking, focus on breathing deep and fully. It is especially important to breathe out fully, too. We tend to keep air in when we are stressed and that is enhancing the stress-spiral even more.
Movement gets us out of our heads and connected more to what really is. Our mind is set up to look for the risks and the dangers, it’s the best tool for the worst case scenarios. And that’s great. If we put things in perspective. Because, hand on heart, can you remember your worst case scenarios coming true once? In reality it is almost always way less frightening and dangerous than our mind tries us to believe. And the key is getting more into your body. Through the body you are coming back into the here and now. And connect back to what is: you are safe. You are capable. You are empowered.
2. Embody the fighter & winner Poses
You know studies show that a person with arms wide open, chest open and spine erect, with a big smile on their face can’t feel depressed? It’s true. Body, mind, emotions, soul, … it is all connected. And we can shift a state of mind or an emotion through the entrance door of the body. You simply have to make the decision and take action.
Everytime your mind plays tricks on you, everytime you experience yourself to enter the stress cycle, everytime you feel stuck in fear, anxiety or even feeling the start of a panic attack: Take a wide stance on your feet, bend your knees a bit, pull your belly in, lengthen and erect your spine, open your chest, let the shoulder float back and away from your ears, lift the gaze and
- Lift your arms into the winner’s pose. Wide open, take up space. Breath deeply, notice how you feel in your body.
- Or take on the posture of a fighter, however it might look for you. You should feel super strong, super focused, ready to rock everything that comes your way. Again, breath deeply and witness.
You are welcome to think of more empowering poses. How about the Alpha animal in a herd, how about the big magician on stage? How about a warrioress or goddess?
All those poses are even more effectively done while watching yourself in the mirror. And this can be done even 5 minutes before your presentation in the bathroom! It is so effective. See for yourself. You can try it right now.
All these poses are encouraging you to take up space. And that is what you are going to do when being “on stage”. So you better claim it consciously.
3. Rooting in your stance or your seat
The better you are rooted the higher you can fly. “On stage”, this means really rooting down your stance, or your seat. You can do that as simple as bringing your awareness into your feet or your sit bones if seated and letting your energy anchor downwards. You can imagine or feel roots rooting down from your feet or sit bones into the structures below you and eventually into the earth itself.
You can also root down your energies of nervousness, excitement, fear AND the anticipation energy of the audience down into the earth. It’s like Judo, you are using your “opponent’s” power not as a weapon against them in our case but as a weapon for your cause to touch people with your presentation.
So take some moments to find the perfect stance or seat, take some moments to set the base right, before you go into the next action step of speaking.
4. Connect to and embody your Inner Queen
My inner what…?! You might ask. Yes, your Inner Queen (or Royalty). We all have her as part of our body/mind system or you can also say: as part of our internal family system. If you are still in doubt, you most probably never took notice of her or tried to find her. And that doesn’t really matter. You can connect with her and start with building a relationship with her anytime. And why not now?!
It can take a while for you to get to know her in depth. And to trust her being there for you whenever you need her. But I assure you, she is only waiting for you to reach out to her.
If your presentation is coming up very soon and you lack the time of building a deeper relationship, don’t end up in despair.
The Queen is also an archetype that you can embody right away (and this will also bring you closer to a flourishing relationship with your individual Inner Queen): Before walking “on stage”, speaking in public – which can also be a small group of colleagues or friends – put on your crown and royal cloak.
Try this at home. Try this now: With intention put on your crown and royal cloak, visualize it and feel it. How does it feel to have a crown on your head? What does it do to your spine and how you hold yourself? How does it feel to be dressed in this royal exquisite luxurious somewhat heavy cloak? How stable do you feel? How invincible do you feel?
Walk a bit, wearing a crown and a cloak. Walk as the embodied Queen. How does it feel to move?
A Queen is a leader. She is not asking for permission. She is in service for her people, she is fighting for her people – in your case your audience. You are in service for your audience, your message needs to be shared to your people!
5. Getting empowered around discomfortable feelings
Now that you are having their attention you might feel even more what is inevitable when you are leading an audience: All eyes are on you.
And a bit scary? Let me tell you, it is normal, especially with our social-cultural history as women. We got socialized to not want attention in on us. I will speak to that in another blog post as this is so important to understand. As for now, I just want to let you know that the uncomfortable feeling of “all eyes on me” is absolutely normal. And you can have a mature relationship to that feeling, too. Familiarize yourself with that feeling (actually any feeling of discomfort), get to know this feeling:
- Where do I feel it in my body?
- How does it feel in my body?
- Does it move? If so, how and when?
- Does it have a voice?
- What does it want to tell me?
- Under which circumstances is the feeling arising?
- How long does the feeling usually stay?
- Under what circumstances is the feeling dissolving or leaving?
The more you are familiar with a feeling the more empowered you are in how you relate to it. Being empowered towards your feelings means, you are neither totally overwhelmed by them nor pushing them away but are able to feel the feeling and make a conscious decision of how you want to react or deal with it – and most importantly: tp decide despite the temporary discomfort to take a step forward to what you really want.
6. Using their energy
Speaking in front of people and having their attention – which you want! – means: All eyes on you. I said that before. And the excitement or however you would describe the energy that is tangible in your body/mind system when “on stage” aka in the focus of attention is partly nourished by that attention from your audience. Where attention goes, energy flows. And with all these eyes on you the energy of the audience flows towards you. And if you are not used to that or even unconsciously judge such a situation in a negative way it is challenging to hold all this energy. Challenging, but totally possible.
The more you practice before a presentation to get familiar with that attention and huge energy that is flowing towards you and the more often you practice “on stage” and presenting, the easier it will get to not only feel more comfortable but to utilize this amazing amount of energy to let it light up your body/mind system and your presentation. How to do that? You let the energy flow to you and through you, you welcome it (vs. resisting it). Again, it is like presentation Judo, you use the energy of your audience (see Nr. 3). You use it to root down, to feel even more empowered, strong, wise, seen. You use it as the marker of what it is: your audience is excited to get to know you (more), to listen and to learn from you! And noticing that feeling these energies from the audience when it comes to public speaking is actually feeling your POWER!
7. Taking the perspective of the other side
You are in control. Being the one speaking in public you took on the role of being in power, you might as well own it. And as said before all eyes are on you, so much energy flows from your audience towards you. This is one delicious way to feel your power.
I invite you to change perspective and experience the situation from the audience’s point of view. You are the leader. The audience is actually in a vulnerable, receptive space of uncertainty. The presenter has all the knowledge about what will come in the next xy minutes. The audience has little to no clue. They are ready to receive – otherwise they wouldn’t be there. And even if it is in a partly forced setting, like in a mandatory presentation in front of a class of fellow students who have to be present in order to gain a good mark, let me tell you, usually everyone is happy to be entertained by a good presentation rather than procrastinating.
Your audience is vulnerable and ready to receive. And you can take responsibility for fulfilling your role as the leader, as the giver. You can decide to serve them. And as you are in the dominant space of certainty you can also decide to love them first.
Even in the dry run in your imagination: feel what this perspective does with your body/mind system. Isn’t the shift amazing?!
So, there you go: these are my 7 secret ways to improve my presentation skills. I am curious how they land with you. Please share in the comments if you have more valuable tipps. You are also more than welcome to share your own experience after putting one or more of my tips into motion.