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Be present to influence, communicate or present well

There is one thing that is absolutely essential to any effective communicator.   The ability to be fully present in the moment.   By present I mean to have one’s awareness fully engaged in each moment of the conversation or presentation rather than being “away” somewhere else thinking about the past or the future.

This seems like such an obvious thing to say but when you recall a past conversation, how much of the time was spent fully “present”.

Here is an example.  I was just typing this post when my wife Lyn called into the office and asked me to check an email she had written.   In that moment, my consciousness jumped out of the present and went to the future and I imagined myself doing her job rather than finishing this post.  Immediately I felt a little frustrated and annoyed.   Thankfully, because I was aware of what was happening, I was able to take a breath and bring my awareness back into my body in the moment.  Immediately my frustration disappeared and I was able to continue writing this post, having agreed to take a look at her email when I was finished.

Another example might be in the middle a presentation on a familiar subject when you find yourself thinking about what you have to do later that afternoon.   Your body is in the room but your mind is jumping ahead.

Being present has a number of benefits:

  • Allows us to make better decisions in the moment
  • Allows us to notice our emotional triggers and choose a better response
  • Allows us to easily and quickly dissolve nervous tension.  Most of our fears come only when we are thinking about the future.  Bring yourself back into the moment and this evaporate like the morning mist on the fields
  • Improves our listening skills – When we are fully present we can take in all relevant information before responding

Being present is an extremely simple concept, but it isn’t easy.

How do you increase your ability to be present?

  • Awareness:  If you are not consciously aware of a behaviour you cannot change it.
  • Acceptance: becoming aware of an unwanted behaviour can trigger a self criticism reflex.  Instead, praise yourself for noticing.
  • Adjust: Take a deep breath and bring your attention back to the here and now

Practice this simple skill and it will transform your communication and your life!

Gavin Meikle

The Presentation Doctor

3 Comments

  1. Damian Hamill on 12/11/2010 at 12:45

    If one is not truly present it is unlikely there will be adequate rapport with others and, in the absence of that, effective communication is highly unlikely.

    Damian Hamill
    Watt Works Consulting

    • Gavin Meikle on 12/11/2010 at 17:07

      Thanks for the comment Damian. What tips or suggestions do you have for helping presenters stay fully present?

  2. TJ Walker on 10/10/2010 at 23:13

    Great post! Noting is worse than a speaker who is obviously thinking about what he/she is going to say in 5 seconds instead of being in the moment. Even if they have great ideas, the “canned” quality of their presentation destroys everything.

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