One of the biggest changelings facing presenters is getting distracted mentally during a presentation. It is normal to want to know how you are doing during a presentation but having a mental conversation while performing is dangerous. That’s a scenario for disaster. We have all seen it. Suddenly the presenter stops and for a moment doesn’t know what they said or loses their place and doesn’t know what comes next.
Today with online presentations, it’s even more important to maintain focus. Viewers in an online presentation have little patience and will disengage.
One of the secrets to preventing a mental conversation while presenting is to concentrate on what you are saying when you say it. Your focus should be on what you are saying and not on evaluating or judging how the audience reacts to your presentation. Staying focused and being present while performing is a skill and takes practice.
Until you have mastered the skill of being present, there is another highly effective technique – Storytelling. When we tell a story, our brains create visuals about the story. You can see the environment, feel the weather, and sense the happiness or the danger of the characters. It’s as if you are transported to another world, and the story is your guide. Try it sometime. Tell someone the story of your favorite film, book, or TV show and see how you become engrossed in the telling. Take notice as your mind focuses only on the story and shuts down your self-talk. Being mindful during a presentation is the key to being relaxed while performing, creating a feeling of immersion where time doesn’t exist.
Storytelling is magical, and now neuroscientists like Uri Hasson from Princeton University in his Ted Talk, “This is your brain on communication” demonstrates how brains sync together during storytelling. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), he shows how listeners’ brain waves synced with the storyteller’s brain waves. The storyteller and the audience travel together, sharing the feelings and the emotions of the story. This syncing can be a powerful tool for any presenter wanting to communicate with an audience.
If you want to prevent mental distractions in your communications, practice the two techniques. Having the ability to lose yourself and be one with the audience is what I call a comfort zone. A place where you feel relaxed and yourself. It’s where the fun begins. Both techniques will help you become a better presenter, whether you are online or face to face.