“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift which is why they call it the present,” Hall of Fame player and coach Mike Ditka said recently on ESPN’s NFL Countdown Show.
The original quote came from 19th century author and historian Alice Morse Earle, who never watched a down of pro football. Still, Ditka thought enough of her words to use them to describe the mindset that each player must have in order to achieve success in the league.
Charismatic speakers apply that same mantra of being fully present to influence their audiences.
Avoiding speaker’s regret
Every person in an audience wants one thing from the speaker: talk directly to me. When a speaker is not fully present with the audience, that connection does not happen and everyone becomes frustrated. The audience feels slighted and like they’ve wasted their time while the speaker regrets forgetting an important point or going too quickly through a slide.
The best way to minimize speaker’s regret is to practice being present in every speech or pitch that you give. The practice begins before you enter the conference room by clearing your head of anything not related to your presentation. This activity is difficult but rewarding for everyone when it’s done correctly.
Delivering your best shot
Your audience deserves 100% of your attention, meaning you take away from your own power as a speaker if you’re going through slides while also thinking about the 102 emails in your inbox or responding to a client’s voicemail.
Speakers who are not present tell meandering stories without a point, usually with a monotone voice. They do not look confident and their gestures do not come across in a natural manner. All of these non-verbal cues mix with the content on the visuals and what the speaker says to create a lot of confusion with the audience due to the lack of a consistent, authentic message.
Giving and receiving presence
Just like we exchange gifts during the holidays, we also exchange our presence or complete attention with the audience during a presentation. Granted, we are naturally wired to think about multiple thoughts and analyze facts while we speak.
However, simply because you can consider several ideas about subjects B,C and D while you’re talking about topic A, or you’re used to doing it, does not mean that activity is productive. So the next time you walk into a conference room to deliver your presentation, give the audience your full presence, which is the best gift they can receive.