Clients often ask me about the right level of presenting energy for them – what’s effective and appropriate? My answer is that there are a few variables, so let me give you some pointers to start the discussion in today’s post.
Firstly, how do people judge our energy levels? It can be boiled down to a few factors:
1. The over-arching factor: enthusiasm level; how engaged do we appear to be? How interested in our topic, and enthusistic about being in front of the room as the presenter?
Remember that if we’re bored with our topic, our audience will be bored too. That’s just how it works. It’s our role as the presenter to lead the energy in the room; and if you’re a nervous presenter this is obviously hard to do. Interestingly though I always tell clients that if they can summon up some enthusiam for their topic, it will help to become a bridge to confidence if they’re not there yet.
2. Facial expressions: again, when we’re nervous our face tends to go blank. Looking animated will usually happen naturally if we’re enthusiastic about the topic, but it’s worth checking in sometimes. Maybe ask a colleague or friend to observe and give you constructive feedback .
3. Posture: stand tall and open. Slumping isn’t a winner!
4. Gestures: some level of gesturing is helpful to appear engaged – however, do what’s natural for your own style.
But is it sustainable? We can focus on all these factors, and they’re all important. However, for longer presentations this is tricky to maintain – we can’t successfully fake it: we simply can’t focus on these external elements for any length of time, there are too many signals to attend to. And this is fundamentally why confidence plays a big role. If we believe we’re going to be successful, we send out the appropriate baseline level of energy for our style and temperament. (A whole other topic.)
Overdoing it? So where can we cross the line from bringing life-force and energy to manic over-acting? This can worry people, understandably! Here are my key testing points for you:
1. Think about when you’re having an animated conversation with a friend, talking about something you’re interested in. What’s your level then? This usually works brilliantly for gauging the right level for where you want to be. This is of course dependent on speech topic and context. And bear in mind that I’m talking specifically about energy levels here. The level of projection, volume, will vary depending on the size of your audience, and this is a topic I’ll cover in a future article.
2. If you ensure you have a focus on your topic before you start to present, and a focus on the task at hand as you’re actually presenting, you’ll come across as animated and energetic. So many speakers appear distracted – or bored, as I mentioned above – a strong focus will keep you on track and engaged, and this translates to engagement for your audience.
What do you think? There are other factors which play a part in energy, but hopefully I’ve given you some useful tips to start you thinking today.