In this article I’d like to share with you a tip that my clients have found useful to help them to decrease their anxiety and therefore to improve the quality of their presentations. It consists in establishing effective eye communication using the Lock, Talk and Pause method.
Feeling nervous about giving an important presentation is a natural reaction that is positive when it leads to an increase in our adrenaline level, giving us the energy to perform well. However, extreme nervousness that isn’t controlled can lead to an inability to give the best of ourselves and this, unfortunately, affects our image and credibility. We are given all sorts of advice about controlling anxiety, ranging from “imagine your audience sitting on the toilet” to “take big, deep breaths”. However, this type of advice may be either too ridiculous or too vague to be useful.
Standing alone on a stage with a big audience facing us can be a rather daunting experience, sometimes making us want to simply run away! The key to overcoming this fear is to address the audience as individual people rather than as one big mass. So, in order to remove the feeling that we are alone on the stage facing the enemy (causing the “fight or flee” phenomenon), we need to deliver our message to one person at a time. Here’s how it’s done.
The Lock, Talk, Pause method:
Lock eyes with one member of the audience, anywhere in the room.
Deliver your message to that person during a few seconds.
Pause and then move on to another person, not too close but not too far away from the previous person.
Using this technique throughout your presentation, speaking to individuals directly, has several advantages:
- it’s easier, and less scary, to talk to one person at a time than to try to address many people at the same time.
- the audience members feel that they are being involved because they are being addressed directly.
- those members of the audience who aren’t paying attention (maybe they’re on their smartphones or catching up on lost sleep!) notice that others are attentive and they then say to themselves that this presentation must be worth listening to.
I’d suggest putting this technique into practice during your next presentation. It might seem difficult and uncomfortable at first, as breaking old habits always is, but as we always say: practice makes perfect!
If you’d like more information on how this is done, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org