Steal This Tip! #6: Let Your Presentation Skills Training Get Physical

Posted by Bridget Beirne
April 30, 2015

by Bridget Beirne

bridget-beirne-1We're loving the results of a study done by Science of People and shared recently in a Hubspot blog post by Lindsay Kolowich entitled "The Science of a Great TED Talk: What Makes a Speech Go Viral." To put it very simply, this study investigated the reactions 760 people had to a certain group of TED talks, and boiled their findings down to 5 common denominators of successful speeches. (Go on, check out the article! We'll wait...)

These findings, ranging from strong non-verbal communication to (what we call) "attention grabbers" (presentation openers) and more, are completely on track with what we bring to our clients. (In fact, if you're a follower of the OC Blog, you've probably heard some of those things before...) That body/voice/personality/message connection is vitally important. And it IS something that anyone can learn.

But what if you're uncomfortable with physicality when you present? What if it's enough for you to just make your way to the presentation stage — what then? What if you find yourself physically locked when speaking? How can you start to pick that lock and open up?

presentation ideas Believe it or not, actors experience the same feeling. (We are people, after all!) Often when working on a role, actors talk about feeling "locked," or physically disconnected from their text and objectives, and they have to work to find a way out of that feeling through movement.

Here's an exercise to help you start to get physical with your presentation skills training, based on a voice-and-speech exercise given to many an actor:

Find yourself some quiet time and a large, empty space. (We're guessing you may want to do this exercise alone, and we don't blame you!) Start by simply speaking through your presentation text, or your notes, while swinging one arm. (The movement should be completely independent of your message; you're not trying to use your gestures to illustrate what you're saying at this point. You're just trying to move.) Make the movement big, and specific. After a bit, add your second arm. Then, bend up and down at the waist while moving your arms. Eventually, add a knee bend into the rotation. Make these movements and gestures overdone, larger than life.

Once you've done that for a bit, start speaking your text again, this time while walking slowly in a large circle. As you go through, increase your speed a bit at a time. Try to be at a light jog by the end. (Obviously, be careful and observant of any personal health or safety limitations you may have...Always, safety first!)

This may not seem earth-shattering, and it may even seem a bit silly — good. That means you're doing it presentation-skills-training-8right. What you're doing is simply getting used to the feeling of moving your body while you're saying this particular set of information. If you struggle with feeling physically locked, and continue to rehearse while sitting down or standing stock-still, you're just building more closed-off muscle memory with each new set of information.

Are you going to flail or run in circles when you deliver your information? Of course not! (Wait, is it funny? Keep it! Keep it! Kidding...) But the more comfortable you get with these oversized movements in a rehearsal setting, the easier it will be to bring strong gestures, physicality, and movement into your actual presentation.

It's all very well to say, "be sure you're communicating with your body!" But, not everyone is at the same level of comfort with their own physical connection. Start working on it, because you CAN get there. Steal this tip to start unlocking your own physicality, then jump up and down and celebrate the results.

Give it a try, and let us know about your progress in the comments below!

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