1) When was the last time you danced? If you're feeling tense or a little stiff when you present, free-form dancing will help you get out of your head and back in your body. Pent-up emotions are released and you’ll move more gracefully in your daily life. I live near Seattle, so I go to Ecstatic Dance on Capital Hill. If you can’t find an event near you, put on some music and let your body move how it wants. Check out Gabrielle Roth’s books Sweat Your Prayers and Maps to Ecstasy if you like to read. She explores the 5 rhythms and how dancing the full range will give you more options. It naturally spills over into your speaking life. You’ll be expressing (not necessarily in words) more freedom and openness.
2) Improvisation is the highlight of my life right now. Have you tried it? It playfully encourages you be present, connected and spontaneous. (All really good qualities to have as a speaker.) I found my current group through www.meetup.com. Two books I recommend are Improvise, Scene from the Inside Out by Mick Napier and Impro by Keith Johnstone. The authors reveal the depth of improv and what you can expect to gain from the exercises.
3) Humor, The speeches that win the awards and bring in new business are those with skillful, inclusive humor. It’s an art form anyone can learn. Take a community college class on humor, read books on humor or keep a journal noting funny things that happen throughout your day. When you put your attention on humor, you’ll start to see more of it. Have you noticed it’s easier to learn when the environment is light-hearted? Have you noticed it’s easier to open your wallet when you’re happy?
4) Use vivid language, spice up your dialogue. I listen to Caroline Casey at www.CoyoteNetworkNews.com because she uses some of the most colorful language I’ve heard in a long time. It wakes me up. My sister and I are now daring each other to use at least 5 new words in every one of our phone conversations. If you find yourself repeating the same words, jazz it up a bit. What’s a more descriptive, specific phrase you can use? When you make a deliberate attempt at this in daily life, it’ll feel more natural when you give a presentation.
5) Go to a book store. Instead of gravitating to your usual row of books, spend some time in the children’s section. Learn how to tell a good story. When I feel blocked, thumbing through fables and fairy-tales helps me soften up, get real and remember what really matters. Stories unite. It brings out our humanity. As we shift from a materialistic world into the experience economy, storytelling will be an essential skill to have in your magic backpack.
Pick one, all five, or dive into one suggestion a week. Customize the ideas to what works for you. Notice if there are more smiles and better results at your next presentation.