Have you ever been in front of a group and completely lost your train of thought? Have you ever froze up when presenting something you have practiced over and over? Yep, I’ve been there, done that. I remember a particular moment when I was MC’ing a meeting of 300 people and had a complete out of body experience. I somehow managed through, but I don’t even remember the experience with much vividness because I lost my ground and I never really got it back. Interestingly, some people complimented me on what a good job I did when it felt like I barely muddled through (they were either being kind or clueless. My bet is on “kind”).
In my last blog, I talked about preparing for speaking events (if you missed it you can read it, here). Here’s the thing – preparation absolutely helps you feel ready and confident, but it doesn’t necessarily help you stay grounded, and to be a fantastic presenter, you need to master the art of being grounded.
First of all, what does “grounded” mean, exactly? When you are grounded, you may have slight nerves, but you harness those nerves to add verve and energy to your presentation. When you are grounded, you can feel your feet planted on the ground, you can breathe normally, and you can dance with whatever shows up – whether that be an interesting question or a heckler in the audience – and use it to create even more value. Sounds pretty great, huh?
What’s fascinating to me, however, is not many people really know how to ground themselves. Most of the clients I’ve worked with had no methods to ground themselves, other than feeling really prepared. When I’ve studied great presenters, I always ask them how they ground before they speak. Bo Eason, as an example, stomps up and down and moves across the backstage area like a predator (it’s pretty intense to witness) but, man, he is grounded when he hits that stage. Bo is a confident dude and he doesn’t mind looking like a predator if it ups his game, but there are more subtle ways to get grounded that are pretty effective. Here are some of my go-to grounding strategies:
- Visualize the Presentation going PERFECTLY – I call this playing the movie in your mind. Don’t make it a horror film. Make it a feel good movie with lots of smiling, engaged people in the audience who are sitting at the edge of their seat to hear what you are going to say next.
- Meditate – This will help calm you and ease any nervousness that you have. You might want to focus on one word and meditate on that word.
- Breathing – Deep breathing also helps calm nerves and gets you grounded. Try breathing in “calm” on your inhale and breathing out all your “stress, anxiousness or worry” on your exhale.
- Listen to Music – Listen to the type you need – Classical to calm. Rock music to excite you and pump you up.
- Flap Your Lips – If you aren’t grounded, you can’t flap your lips. It’s a funny phenomenon but next time you present, don’t go on stage until you can do this. You know you are breathing and grounded if you can. You might want to duck into a bathroom or behind the curtain for this one, though! If you aren’t sure what lip flapping is, watch this amazing lip flapper on YouTube.
- Get In Your Body – Do jumping jacks, pump your fists, jog in place. Getting a little blood pumping in your veins will help energize you and force you to breathe more.
When I get grounded for a presentation, I actually use most of these techniques in tandem, as well as spend a lot of time preparing so I feel confident and ready.
As always, I love to hear from you. What do you do to ground before you present? What questions do you have about getting and staying grounded for a presentation?