Being Present And Aware

Seeing the moment for what it is, is important for how we relate to it. Without construing false pretenses or imagining outcomes, we let the moment be just as it is without further interpretation. To let the moment exist how it is, to be present with it, allows us to not only fully experience it, but to be part of it. We create a separation from our reality when we pull ourselves into our heads; our thoughts destroy our interaction with it. We become someone who is relating by memory, with fear of the outcome, or are simply too lost in thought to be present. On the other side of things, we can also be too wrapped up in our emotional state to fully see what is truly happening around us.

When we are preoccupied by our emotions, relating to them rather than to the moment, we can never be fully present. In relation to the moment, we can exist purely from a state of no withdrawal, no ulterior motives, no internal mental or emotional battles, and most importantly simply allowing ourselves to be where we are. We very often choose to pull out of the moment. Why? Because we find our thoughts are more important, we give them a value over our existence. In addition, we sometimes rule our days by our emotions. Often, the two of them interacting and filling our day up, and we never fully come to peace with where we are. We miss the moment.

We have lost the value of experiencing the moment for simply what it is. We let ourselves get lost in ourselves, in what we think is important, and choose to exit reality. We may think we are doing a good job at being where we are. But take a moment, relax, and ask yourself how much of the day or even this very moment have you really felt present? Why do we hide from the moment, why do we pull ourselves away so often? It is like we are fixated on anything but being fully present. However, the truth is that when you can be present and not be pulled in many different directions by thoughts or emotions, all else falls away and the constant struggle you feel can dissipate.

The importance you placed on figuring things out, on worrying over the future, on delaying your responses out of fear–all of this is nonessential, because the moment does not require this. The moment exists as part of us; therefore, there is no future, no past, no struggle, no aftereffect, or even anywhere to get lost in, because we have not complicated the moment with our ideas, perceptions, memories, fears, or anything else. When we are present and fully engaged in the now of the moment, we can see clearly and feel what is important. We can understand what really matters for us at that time. We can relax and become ourselves without stress, without managing or pulling ourselves in different directions. By letting ourselves stay grounded with where we are, we are present. We are connected and therefore need nothing else. All the big problems tend to fall away because we no longer give them so much importance in our lives. We can then see them for what they are with nothing else added to them. Let go of yourself long enough to be present. Engage in the moment. Feel, see, and think about where you are and nothing else. Life’s purpose is not about struggle or always doing something; rather, it is about being where you are.

Four Public Speaking Pitfalls That Trap Most Presenters

If you want to drastically improve your very next presentation, it is important to understand 4 of the pitfalls that keep most speakers in a ditch out of which they can never seem to climb. If you see where these traps are, you can easily avoid them. As a result, you will clear your pathway to a powerful and persuasive speech.

Here are the 4 costly mistakes:
 
1. They close their speech with the question and answer session. Never close your speech with the Q&A session, because people remember best what they hear first and what they hear last. If you end with the Q&A, you lose control over the last message your audience receives and much of your hard work is undone. It is still a good idea to have a Q&A session, but it is not a good idea to end your presentation with it. Instead, hold the session about 80-90% into your speech and then close the speech in your own powerful way.

2. They open their speech with a whimper. Most speakers open with statements like, “I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me to speak on this prestigious occasion. First I would like to thank Bob.” What is wrong with that kind of opening? Frankly, it’s boring. Boredom shows up when you do what is expected. Instead, come out in an unexpected way by jumping right into your message. Take the “sitcom approach” and start the show first and then transition back to the opening theme song. One good way to do this is to immediately dive into a story. That will catch your audience off guard and you will have their attention from your very first word.

Another effective way is to ask a question. For example, I start some speeches with the following question: “What do you think is the number one thing that stands in the way of most people living their dreams?” This immediately gets my audience’s attention and prompts them to think and to get involved with the speech. Questions work extremely well because they take your audience members from passive spectators to active participants and that definitely raises the energy. Once you finish your planned opening, it is then fine to go back and thank the people who brought you there. Don’t open with a whimper, open with a bang.

3. They lip-synch. I once had a CFO of a biotech company say, “Craig, we need you to coach us with our presentation. We already have the presentation, but we just need to know what to say.” That might seem confusing but I knew exactly what he meant. He meant that the company already had a slide presentation but they needed to know what to say between those slides. Once I worked with them, they came to realize that they had to look at their major points first and then determine if slides were even needed to reinforce them. Most presenters who use slides simply verbalize the same points that are made on the slide. The key to understand is this; if you say the same thing as your slides, then one of you is not needed! You are doing the equivalent of lip-synching your presentation. The best time to use slides is for real visuals such as charts, graphs, and diagrams that will help clarify what you say verbally.

4. They don’t master the essence of public speaking. Bill Gove, the first President of the National Speakers Association, once said that good public speaking is being able to “tell a story and make a point.” That is the essence of public speaking. If you want to become the kind of speaker others line up and sign up to see, then make an effort to master storytelling. People make decisions with their emotions backed up by logic. Stories reach those emotions and get people in a frame of mind to take action. When you become a master storyteller, you help other people see new stories unfold for their own lives. Like the old saying goes, “Facts tell and stories sell.” The key for effective speaking is to get to your stories early because they are the heart of your speech.

If you avoid the 4 pitfalls that trap most speakers and you work on the suggestions above, you will find yourself far ahead of most of the people who ever stood up to say anything.

Handling Hecklers – 5 Ways That Presenters Can Restore Order

How does that children’s rhyme go?

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Bull! If there is one thing that presenters dread more than forgetting their lines, it’s having someone add to their speech without an invitation. Unlike President Obama we don’t have a flock of Secret Service agents at our beck and call who can fan out into an audience and cart off an unruly heckler.

What should you do when someone in the audience starts to deliberately take away from your carefully rehearsed speech? Start crying and go home is always a possibility; however, I’ve got some better ways to deal with this situation for you…

What Is Heckling?
Maybe a good place for us to start this discussion is to make sure that we both fully understand just what heckling is. There are two types of heckling that you WILL have to deal with during one or more of your presentations: active and passive.

Active heckling occurs when someone in the audience starts talking back to you right in the middle of your speech. For a public speaker this often feels like you’ve just hit a speed bump in your speech while you were going 80 miles an hour. Talk about surprising!

Passive heckling is much closer to disrespect. This often shows up as people having their own conversations during your presentation. Normally this is their own call and you don’t really care, but if they are loud enough then it becomes your problem. Talking on a cell phone or having a huddle at the back of the room are common ways that this shows up.

No matter if you are speaking at a wedding, a graduation, or a business function, hecklers will ALWAYS be in the audience and it’s just a matter if they decide to speak up. First off, we should talk about what you should NOT do…

What Should You NOT Do?
I sorta like to think of this as the North Korea problem – man they are annoying, but they are so small as to not really count in the big scheme of things. Likewise, when you are faced with either an active or a passive heckler, you need to make sure that you don’t come out with guns ‘a blazing. Here are a few things that you should NOT do when you are trying to deal with a heckler:

  • Don’t try to be funny: this is the #1 response that trips up most presenters. They spend too much time trying to come up with a funny response to the heckler on the spot and it falls flat. A serious response will shut him/her up most of the time.
  • Don’t Lose Your Temper: I don’t care if you were just coming to that point in your speech which causes everyone to burst into tears and now this rude heckler has spoiled the moment. If you lose your temper, then you’ll never be able to get back into your speech after the moment has passed.

How To Correctly Handle A Heckler
Some hecklers are a one-shot deal – they make one comment and then they’ll go away forever. However, depending on what they’ve said, even this type of heckler needs to be dealt with. Dealing with all types of hecklers correctly is the key to being a successful public speaker. Here are 5 ways that you can deal with hecklers during your speech:

  1. Silence: Somewhat surprisingly the simplest solution is often the most effective. If you stop speaking and turn and stare at the heckler, everyone else will turn to see what you are looking at. In 95% of heckler cases this kind of social embarrassment is all that it takes to shut a heckler up.
  2. Tie Your Response To The Event: This is a clever way to remind the heckler why everyone is at the event. For example, if you were speaking at a breast cancer awareness event and started to have problems with a heckler, a great response would be “Hey, I’m talking here – unless you’ve discovered a way to beat breast cancer, how about if you just remain quiet”.
  3. Add The Heckler To Your Team: This technique turns an unexpected interruption into what appears to be a planned part of your speech. After the heckler has said what they are going to say, pause for a moment and thank your “speechwriter / joke writer / etc.”. The audience will laugh with you, the heckler will beam with pride, and you can go on.
  4. Give Them The Mic: This is a fairly drastic tactic, but it can pay great dividends. Walk over to where the heckler is sitting and offer to hand them the mic. Generally they will decline the offer and will get the point that this presentation is not all about them.
  5. Think Outside The Room: Certain hecklers, such as loud groups at the back of the room, can resist all efforts on your part to overcome them. This calls for innovative thinking. One way to handle this is either for you or your audience to move. You can move out into the center of your audience and deliver your speech “in the round” or you can have them move their chairs in order to be closer to you.