Most of us are taught that there is a certain way we are supposed to be when we stand up in front of a room to present our message or material. To be the perfect presenter, we have to know our material completely and deliver it with ubiquitous grace and style. We believe we must be taken seriously at all times, and thus do everything possible to avoid self-embarrassment or humiliation. Whatever question comes our way, there is, of course, a correct answer and we’d best have it right there on the tip of our tongue.

This image of perfection is an illusion. As we approach the podium with this illusion in mind, we unwittingly shut off our essence, our spontaneity, our wholeness, in short, our ability to be present in the moment. We shut off the life force that WAS flowing through us just moments before we left our seats to assume the role of presenter. And in so doing, we unwittingly sabotage our effectiveness.

As a presenter, how often have you felt this occur? A drain of your energy, a numbing of your knowing, an inability to think clearly about that which is your own expertise. And it all happens in an instant, from the moment you leave your chair to your arrival in front of the room.

We must break through this illusion in order to reclaim our power. For striving to be perfect – the illusory image – cuts off our essence. The truth is that an audience wants our authenticity and humanness – and how can you be authentic, and thus believable, if you aren’t fully there, backing what your mouth is attempting to say? We’ve all heard that ill-fated expression “talking head.” It really ought to be more aptly named “talking mind.”

So how do you break through this illusion of the perfect image once and for all? How can you walk up each time you present with your essence intact?

Try this on for size. Close your eyes and picture yourself standing in front of the presentation room, attempting to be “perfect”. Notice how stiff and serious you come across. You may notice you’re not breathing much, nor do your eyes connect with others . . . rather your eyes dart from point to point like a scared rabbit. Now, freeze frame this image, then shatter it, like a statue breaking into a thousand pieces.

Now, build a fresh image of yourself, full of life, animation, and open to connect with others in the room. Notice how engaged you are with your audience, intent to hear their thoughts as well as express your own. Picture yourself moving with intention and purpose, gestures clean and crisp. Your thoughts flow easily. Your eyes remain with one person for one thought, and you are breathing as normally as you would in day-to-day conversation. Your essence is present. As you hold this picture in your thoughts, notice how you feel now.

From now on, each time you even think about presenting, return to this “view finder”. Remind yourself, “I can be me. I can stay present no matter what happens up there.” Let this become your personal mantra as you approach the stage.

You HAVE to be you, you have to stay present, in order to be authentic and effective. Plus, you’ll have much more LIFE in your delivery, and certainly more fun! Always remember that it’s your passion and essence combined with your knowing which sells your message and attracts others to listen to you fully. None of us wants to watch a clone or a drone up there on stage! We want individuals, expressing their uniqueness and telling us what they know.

Essence not image. A new view, one that will bring ease to your effort in presenting. Now get up there and enjoy yourself! No more hesitation! You can trust what you do know. And while you’re at it, have some fun, flow and fulfillment at the same time!

Now the question is, will you? It’s time to be new, and by all means, be you.

Marie Moran
July, 2001

Author's Bio: 

Marie Moran is CEO and Founder of Impact International, a
California-based leadership and communication consulting firm. Since 1984, Marie has specialized in presentation skills training. Today, she brings a fresh approach that incorporates life balance principles and Lifeblood Expression into her work. For more information you can visit Impact on the web at www.impact-training.com or email Marie Moran at impact@impact-training.com