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Zen and the Art of Speaking

One of my favorite sports personalities, Phil Jackson, uses a time-tested Zen-based approach to getting his players to step to a higher level of awareness. He once said, “True joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way. Of course, it's no accident that things are more likely to go your way when you stop worrying about whether you're going to win or lose and focus your full attention on what's happening right this moment.”

I recently connected with Sandra Zimmer of The Self-Expression Center and her approach to preparing a spokesperson immediately reminded me of Jackson's philosophy of heightening a person's consciousness in order to improve performance. I wanted to share this article she submitted and hope you find it helpful.

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When you speak to others, do you make a connection and hold their rapt attention? Develop the power of presence to help you compel the attention of others. When you are present, you are able to hold the focus of attention of others easily.

Often, when people speak in front of others, their attention is split so that their presence is not strong enough to hold attention. While trying to deliver an important message, you may have had the experience of feeling physically tense, experiencing emotional anxiety and thinking you may not say it right. With your own attention split in several directions, it is no wonder people do not seem to be paying attention!

Below are some core concepts that will help you develop presence and connection that are captivating and compelling.

1. Ground your body to experience the sensation of presence. Get out of your head and get into your body. Cultivate the ability to relax your mental attention down through your body all the way to your feet. Imagine you melt energy out of your head and let it flow down to fill your entire body. Grounding your body creates a sense of strength, stability and the awareness of being in the present moment.

2. Warm up your body. Before you speak or present, make sure you have done enough physical exercise so that everything is loose and flowing. You may not realize that physical tension impairs your ability to communicate freely. Actors and athletes know the power of warming up. You should too.

3. Let others see your real self rather than projecting an image you want them to see. Let go of performing for them and be with them. Create a style of speaking based on being who you really are rather than who you think you should be. The more real you are, the more people will be drawn to you.

4. Explore the tension of being the center of attention with curiosity rather than self judgment. If you experience fear and anxiety to speak in front of others, you have the potential to be a high-impact speaker. You have strong feelings! Your feelings are up to the surface where they can be used to create genuine emotional connection with others. Fear of public speaking is just passion energy that is blocked in the body and not being allowed to flow freely. Give yourself permission to feel the tension and experience it until it releases into flow.

5. Integrate your real, “in the moment” feelings into the presentation without self-judgment.  Be real with them so something real can happen in the space between you. Don’t be afraid to say, “You know, every time I speak in groups I feel tension because I want to do a good job of communicating with you.” This creates intimacy with your listeners.

6. Breathe. I mean really breathe. Take deep breaths, fast breaths, slow breaths, until you relax. Breathing helps your brain oxygenize and relaxes you body. Spend 10 to 15 minutes breathing before your presentation.

7. Receive your "audience" to create electricity. Open yourself to take people in. Don’t worry about being pumped up for your audience. Instead, allow the connection and electricity to build as you receive them. 

8. Let go of perfectionism. Give up the idea that you have to be perfect in order to be effective. Effectiveness is not about your performance. It is what happens to your listeners. If they are changed by your communication for the better, then you have been effective.

9. Choose to love them rather than worrying if they will like you. Extend your love and acceptance to them and give them permission to receive it or not. This is a very powerful space from which to communicate.

10. Talk one-on-one, even in a large group. Make a connection with one person at a time. Have a conversation with one person, then another, then another.

Presence is a sense of being here now, in this moment. All aspects of your being – physical, mental and emotional – are focused together on what is happening now.  When you are so focused, you exude a strong “presence” that others can sense.

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Thanks, Sandra!

The Self Expression Center and DPK Public Relations can team up to prepare your spokesperson for their next big opportunity. To schedule DPK Public Relations' Media Interview Skills Training, or DPK Public Relations' Public Speaker Training, please contact DPK Public Relations at dan@keeneypr.com or call 832-467-2904.

Sandra Zimmer
(281) 293-7070
Author: Sandra Zimmer
Phone: (281) 293-7070
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