DEAR SUZANNE: How Can I Keep my Energy Up When Presenting?
Q: I provide training, education and technical support to prosthetists and the national sales team. I loved it. However my love for what I was doing did not shine through in my 4 and 8-hourpresentations, as I felt I was extremely focused, serious and intent on covering all of the material and have it understandable to the audience.
Everyone felt I was knowledgeable and confident. The only negative feedback was I lacked passion. Someone suggested I speak with the expressiveness I have when I read my children stories. I understand what they meant, but it was easier suggested than accomplished. I read to the kids for about an hour, not four or eight, and I could not maintain that level of energy.
A: This is a common challenge for people who present for a long period of time.
My team, after training for one, two, three days, will always get the compliment from our clients “I cannot believe the energy you have, and how you maintained it for the entire time“. My team is all different communications styles, so it is not just because they are expressive people.
So what can you do? Here are some suggestions.
You mentioned you focused on the audience; good for you. But focusing on the audience it is much more than the words you use. It is the physical connection you have with them.
- Smile – this can help your pitch (I will tell people to put a smiley face in their notes to remind them. Silly, I know, but it works).
- Reading stories like you read to children also does help. This needs practice. It is not a one time master made exercise. You will want to tone it down when speaking to adults as it could affect your credibility, however this does work!
- Many people have a challenge with modulating, so we encourage them to use gestures in a controlled fashion. Keep your hands above your waist and use them to explain concepts. This will change the pitch of our voice, making you sound more energetic and therefore more engaging.
- Use movement to change the energy in the room. At Ignite Excellence we speak about ‘moving with purpose’. This works extremely well and is a great tool to camouflage that you have a challenge modulating and it help with connecting with the audience. The closer you are to the audience the more engaged they will feel. Move from one side of the room to another (when appropriate, around the room)- and the audience will feel the energy has changed.
- Using eye contact – really looking into people’s eyes will also ensure that you are staying focused on the audience and their receipt of the message. Don’t look too long, or they will think you are staring. Every time you pause, just look into someone else’s eyes. This technique takes a lot of practice, but is extremely powerful, once mastered.
- Lastly, all these techniques are really about giving INTENTION. Being so focused on the receiver of the message that you can’t help but give each person all the energy that you have in you.
Now all of this doesn’t happen overnight. The key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE. If you are expecting all that energy just to show up at the most important time – a presentation – then our expectations are too high.
Now I will warn you, after four or eight hours of presenting, you will need a rest. But you will be satisfied that you connected not only with your message, but with your energy to everyone in the room.
Keep in mind: Sometimes to get the best out of yourself is to have someone push you to the edge of your comfort zone while you practice.
Suzanne F Stevens, is the Chief Edge Optimizer of the Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of Initiatives. As Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Coach, Host and Philanthropist, she inspires, develops and invests in people to push their edge to personal and professional potential from backpack, to briefcase to boardroom. As a trainer, Suzanne’s influential business communication training arms individuals and organizations to influence, differentiate and engage more people and more business. Visit igniteU – online influence university. Self-paced business training for career growth!
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Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom
igniteU – Online influence university. Self-paced learning to develop your business skills for your business success.
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in developing countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a training & development company